BERLIN (Reuters) – Accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk has been deemed fit enough by medical experts to stand trial in Germany for helping to kill 29,000 Jews in World War Two, the state prosecutors office in Munich said Friday.
Demjanjuk, 89, deported to Germany from the United States, has been held in a jail near Munich since May 12. His trial is expected to be Germany’s final major Nazi war crimes court case.
After examining Demjanjuk, medical experts placed only one condition on their stamp of approval for the trial to proceed
— that court appearances be limited to two 90-minute sessions a day, the state prosecutors office said in a statement.
They said they expect charges to be raised against Demjanjuk in July. Both prosecutors in Munich and Demjanjuk’s defense attorney, Guenther Maull, said the trial could begin by autumn.
“The doctors have determined that the accused is capable of standing trial with the condition that the length of the court sessions should not exceed two 90-minute sessions per day,” the state prosecutors said.
Demjanjuk’s family has fought efforts to put him on trial, arguing that he is too frail. They said he suffers from spinal problems, kidney failure and anemia.
When he arrived in Germany, pictures showed Demjanjuk lying on a stretcher in an ambulance wearing a baseball cap with tubes coming out of his nose. He has been held at Stadelheim jail, where Hitler was held after a failed 1922 coup attempt.
Born in Ukraine, Demjanjuk tops the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of its 10 most-wanted suspected war criminals. Munich prosecutors want him tried for assisting in murders at Sobibor extermination camp, in what is now Poland.
He denies any role in the Holocaust.
The Wiesenthal Center says Demjanjuk pushed men, women and children into gas chambers.
Demjanjuk has said he was drafted into the Soviet army in 1941, became a German prisoner of war and later became a guard in German prison camps until 1944.
He was stripped of his U.S. citizenship after he was accused in the 1970s of being “Ivan the Terrible,” a notoriously sadistic guard at the Treblinka death camp.
He was extradited to Israel in 1986 and sentenced to death in 1988, but Israel’s Supreme Court overturned his conviction when new evidence showed another man was probably “Ivan.”
He regained his citizenship in 1998, but the U.S. Justice Department refiled its case against him in 1999, arguing he had worked for the Nazis as a guard at three other death camps. His citizenship was stripped from him again in 2002.