LTE: The Demjanjuk Deportation
Posted on: 2009-06-27 19:33:42
It is understandable that journalists might misunderstand basic legal principles. It is not excusable for law professors to do so.
Professor Harry Reicher is wrong about John Demjanjuk and wrong about the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations (which he mistakenly calls the Office of Special Prosecutions). ["Demjanjuk deportation: a milestone," NLJ, June 8.] The U.S. government has indeed pursued John Demjanjuk for more than three decades. The old adage "justice must be seen to be done" is a good starting point.
For the first decade and one-half, that pursuit consisted of the DOJ committing fraud on the courts of the United States and Israel. This fraud, documented by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, consisted of the DOJ failing to disclose documents that showed that Demjanjuk was not "Ivan the Terrible," a brutal Treblinka guard. Based on the fraudulent evidence, Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel and sentenced to death. His family uncovered the truth, and the Israel Supreme Court acquitted him.
Israel's attorney general said that the acquittal barred prosecution for other offenses, including the ones now being pressed in Germany. Ironically, at that time, the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) allowed Jacob Tannenbaum, a 77-year-old admitted brutal Jewish kapo, to live out his life at home in the United States due to age and health reasons.
Despite the Israeli result, and two independent U.S. court findings of fraud, the OSI has never apologized to anyone, let alone Demjanjuk and his family, nor offered compensation. Nor were the perpetrators of the fraud punished or even reprimanded. Today, with a blind eye to the case history, Professor Reicher hails these perpetrators of fraud as heroes.