The trial in Germany of John Demjanjuk, accused of being a former guard at the Sobibor death camp, resumed this week following a pause of more than two weeks. The 89-year-old man is charged with accessory to murder in 27,900 counts. That is the number of people killed at the concentration camp in Nazi occupied Poland during the time Demjanjuk allegedly served there during World War II.
For the second time since the trial resumed Monday, defense attorney Ulrich Busch asked the court to dismiss the case. The court turned down his pleas Monday as ungrounded.
Busch repeated the motion and added another for good measure - asking that the judges be removed because they are biased. "I think I am right in my position that Mr. Demjanjuk is innocent and that the court is not legally established to take this case and to judge Mr. Demjanjuk," he said.
The court ruled against Busch on both counts and continued to hear from World War II survivors who lost their families at the Sobibor Concentration Camp. Paul Hellmann, 74, says he is doing this for his father. "It is the only thing you can do for your father and your relatives. It does not help in the real sense, but it is a feeling for yourself that you can do something. It is not much, but it is better than doing nothing. And I think that it is very important that the story of what happened in that camp goes out into the world," he said.
John Demjanjuk arrived in court in a hospital bed. In the fourth day of hearings he has still to react to anything that is said in the court and listens to the testimony impassively. Vera de Jong Simons, who lost her family in the Sobibor gas chamber, says it is an act. "He is a big actor and I think he is very strong to be able to act three hours a day. I could not act like that three hours a day. I think he is very strong," she said.
The court has now adjourned for the holidays. When it resumes on January 12 the prosecution will present documents proving that John Demjanjuk, then known as Ivan, served as a guard at the Sobibor camp. Until then, the defense will have to wait for a ruling on its latest motion to dismiss the case.