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U.S. Marshals Fly Accused Nazi to Israel to Face Trial

United Press International

U.S. marshals today turned over accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk to Israel for trial on charges of herding 900,000 Jews to their deaths in the gas chambers of a World War II concentration camp.

The transfer of custody marked the first time the United States has extradited an accused Nazi war criminal to Israel. Demjanjuk, a retired auto worker who lived for years in Cleveland, faces the death penalty if convicted.

Handcuffed and under heavy police guard, Demjanjuk, 66, was flown tourist class from New York to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport aboard a Boeing 747 jetliner of the Israeli airline El Al. Earlier in the week, he lost his final appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court to avoid extradition.

Placed in Armored Van

Demjanjuk stepped from the aircraft and was handed over to Israeli authorities halfway down the plane’s exit ramp. Israeli police immediately slapped their own handcuffs on Demjanjuk, read him his rights and whisked him off to the nearby Ayalon Prison in an armor-plated security van.

Demjanjuk was jailed in a specially built isolation cell equipped with closed-circuit television cameras and round-the-clock guards, to prevent him from committing suicide or being attacked by other inmates.

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Demjanjuk, is accused of being “Ivan the Terrible,” a sadistic guard in the Treblinka death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. Authorities say he sent about 900,000 Jews to their deaths.

Holocaust survivors say the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk tortured inmates before herding them into the gas chambers.

“Ivan had a weapon--a pipe, a sword, a whip--and he tortured them before they went to the gas chamber,” Treblinka survivor Eliahu Rosenberg told a U.S. court during deportation proceedings last year.

Justice Ministry spokesman Yitzhak Feinberg said it could take months to try Demjanjuk under Israel’s 1950 war crimes law. He is to be arraigned Sunday in Jerusalem.

Demjanjuk maintains he is the victim of mistaken identity. He says he was a Soviet soldier who fought the Germans during World War II and was framed as a death camp guard by the KGB, the Soviet security service.


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