US rethink on Demjanjuk

YET another legal ruling has brought more confusion concerning the future of John Demjanjuk. The 73-year-old car worker from Cleveland, Ohio, was cleared by the Supreme Court in Jerusalem last week of being 'Ivan the Terrible' of Treblinka, only to be locked up in an Israeli jail again on Sunday to face the possibility of lesser war crimes charges.

Now, however, a US court has ruled that Mr Demjanjuk should be allowed to return to America. While the Israeli courts have considered Mr Demjanjuk's appeal against his conviction in 1988 of being Ivan the Terrible, separate proceedings have been under way in the US, considering whether his extradition to Israel in 1986 to face the charges was valid.

Yesterday an appeals court in Cincinnati ruled that his extradition was open to question, after Thursday's acquittal in Jerusalem, and that Mr Demjanjuk should be allowed back to the US while the whole issue was examined. The judges said his extradition was approved solely in order that he be tried before an Israeli court for being Ivan the Terrible, the gas chamber operator at Treblinka. As he has been cleared of that charge the validity of the extradition was brought into doubt.

It remained unclear last night what the impact of the US ruling would be on the new proceedings launched against Mr Demjanjuk on Sunday. An appeal has been launched in Israel by a Holocaust survivor and the far-right group Kach, challenging the Israeli Supreme Court's decision not to try Mr Demjanjuk on lesser charges, raised during his original trial, that he was an SS death camp guard.

Legal experts in Israel were last night in doubt about whether Israel could bring these lesser charges. The US court appeared to rule that it would be unlawful in view of the terms of his extradition.

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