U.S. marshals on Friday turned over accused Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk, 66, to Israel for trial on charges of forcing about 900,000 Jews to their deaths in the gas chambers of Treblinka, the World War II extermination camp in Poland.
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, a native of the Ukraine in the Soviet Union, was flown from New York to Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport aboard a Boeing 747 jet of the Israeli airline El Al. Earlier in the week, he lost his final appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court to avoid extradition.
Demjanjuk stepped from the aircraft and was handed over to Israeli authorities halfway down the plane’s exit ramp. He was taken to the Ayalon Prison near the airport.