The pace of justice is slow. When it comes to the case of John Demjanjuk, it’s glacial.
Demjanjuk, who lived most of his life as an Ohio autoworker, is — according to a warrant from Germany — an accessory to some 29,000 deaths during World War II at the Sobibor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Today, a federal court issued a stay of his deportation after six immigration officers removed the retired autoworker from his suburban Cleveland home in a wheelchair, the Associated Press reported.
“It was horrendous. He was in such pain. I wouldn’t want to see anyone go through something like that,” said granddaughter Olivia Nishnic, 20.
It was 1977 — 32 years ago — that Demjanjuk was first discovered by officials to be “Ivan the Terrible.” It took four years before a federal district court judge ruled that he lied on his citizenship application and should be deported. An appeal followed.
Two years later, Israel sought his extradition, but it took three years before he was sent there. It took two years for Israel to put him on trial, and then sentence him to death by hanging. Five years after that — 1993 — the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the verdict and sent him back to the U.S.
His citizenship was restored when it was determined prosecutors withheld evidence.
In 1999, he was charged again, but this time the complaint said only that he was a Nazi guard, not that he was Ivan the Terrible. It took two more years to put him on trial, another year before a judge ruled, two more for an appeals court to uphold his conviction, one more before an immigration judge ordered him deported, one more before an immigration appeals board upheld that decision, one more before an appeals court denied further review, five months more before the Supreme Court refused to intervene, and one more before a judge stayed his deportation, then lifted it, before today’s Appeals Court action reinstating the stay.
What should the next move be?
(Photo: 1993 file photo by Yaakov Sa”ar/GPO/Getty Images)