8:06am

Thu May 12, 2011
The Two-Way

Germany Convicts Former U.S. Autoworker Of Nazi Crimes

A German court has convicted 91-year-old John Demjanjuk as an accessory to the murders of Jews at a concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. The trial has lasted for 18 months; the elderly Demjanjuk attended court in a wheelchair or in a hospital bed. The AP says he refused the court's offer to make a final statement.

He's been sentenced to five years in prison. There's no direct evidence he committed a crime at Sobibor camp and no living witnesses testified, so prosecutors used wartime documents to build the case.

Demjanjuk maintains he was a Soviet prisoner of war who was forced into labor and plans to appeal the verdict, but he's been very ill, according to the BBC.

He's already spent eight years in an Israeli prison convicted of crimes he allegedly committed as 'Ivan the Terrible', a notorious guard at the Treblinka camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. But his conviction and death sentence were overturned after the Israeli Supreme Court ruled there was reasonable doubt he worked at that camp, as Bloomberg notes.

The BBC profiles Demjanjuk's trials, his birth in Ukraine and service in the Soviet Red Army. Although naturalized as a U.S. citizen, he's been stripped of it twice. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.