Testimony: ‘Ivan The Terrible’ Fled To Yugoslavia
JERUSALEM (AP) _ The defense for John Demjanjuk said Sunday the ″real″ Nazi death camp guard ″Ivan the Terrible″ fled the allied advance near the end of World War II and found cover with Yugoslav partisans.
Demjanjuk, 72, a retired Cleveland auto worker, was convicted in 1988 of being ″Ivan,″ a sadistic gas chamber operator at the Treblinka camp where 850,000 Jews perished in 1942-43. He has appealed his conviction and death sentence to the Supreme Court.
Defense attorney Yoram Sheftel asked the court Sunday to release his client without bail based on the latest testimony. In the past, the court has routinely denied the request.
The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk insists he is a victim of mistaken identity and was never in Treblinka. He says he spent most of World War II in German prisoner-of-war camps after being captured as a Red Army soldier in May 1942. Prosecution evidence places him in Germany from October 1943 to late 1944.
Sheftel argues that the real ″Ivan″ was named Ivan Marchenko. He has cited testimony by Ukrainian guards at Treblinka who said Marchenko was Ivan and looked different from Demjanjuk. The guards testified in Nazi war crimes trials in the Soviet Union in the 1940s through 1960s.
The prosecution says Demjanjuk may have been using an alias in Treblinka and noted that he gave his mother’s maiden name as Marchenko in a 1948 U.S. visa application.
Sheftel has produced a marriage certificate showing the maiden name was Tabachuk. He says Demjanjuk forgot the name and picked the common Ukrainian name Marchenko to avoid leaving a blank on the application.
Until now, Sheftel’s efforts to trace what happened to Marchenko ended with a report he was last seen in the Italian port city of Trieste toward the end of the war.
But Sheftel on Sunday cited testimony by another Treblinka gas chamber operator, Nikolai Shelayev, who testified he and Marchenko were transferred from Treblinka to Trieste in July 1943. There, Marchenko guarded German warehouses and a local prison, Shelayev said.
In 1944, when allied forces were approaching, Marchenko and a driver named Gregory ″fled in an armored car to the partisans in Yugoslavia,″ Sheftel quoted from Shelayev’s testimony.
Sheftel said Shelayev also told Soviet officials that Marchenko had black hair, brown eyes, a square face and a scar on the cheek. Demjanjuk was blond in his youth, has a round face and no scar on the cheek.
Shelayev’s testimony is one of the statements by 31 Ukrainian guards brought from the Soviet Union by prosecutor Michael Shaked. The defense says all the guards identify ″Ivan″ as Ivan Marchenko.
The last testimony was submitted Feb. 25. However, Sheftel said the prosecution only handed him a Hebrew translation of Shelayev’s statement on Thursday.