Demjanjuk’s Israeli defence attorney from his successful acquittal of charges in Treblinka has come out in the press, protesting the verdict:
Israeli Attorney Yoram Sheftel responded on Thursday to the conviction and sentence of John Demjanjuk in Munich.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew website, Sheftel said that the trial was distorted and unreal. “There was a shameful farce here,” he said. “Certainly the German court did not believe its own ruling.”
“There is no precedent in the 20th century in any legal system,” Sheftel said, “that a person who was convicted of helping to murder 28,000 people is released to his home immediately after his conviction and not sent to prison.”
Sheftel had served as Demjanjuk’s attorney when he was put on trial in Israel in the late 1980s, to face charges that he was the brutal Nazi-era Treblinka camp guard known as “Ivan the Terrible.”
Demjanjuk was convicted and sentenced to death in 1988, but appealed the decision and the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the death sentence in 1993, saying that new evidence from the collapsed Soviet Union introduced doubt that Demjanjuk was indeed Ivan the Terrible.
Sheftel said that he is convinced that the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Demjanjuk was the true verdict he deserved.
“Nothing has changed since then,” he said. “Even during the trial in Germany, there was not one person who testified that Demjanjuk was Ivan from Sobibor, by virtue that he was seen there, and as such the conviction is a farce.”
Yoram Sheftel was a brave man who defied Israeli society that villified him and his client in search for the truth that led to the acquittal of Demjanjuk as ‘Ivan the Terrible’. During the trial Sheftel became ‘the most hated man in Israel’, had his life threatened multiple times and endured an acid attack to the face. You can read a good summary of Demjanjuk’s trial in Germany here, including the fact there was no evidence of him committing a specific crime, with only an ID card produced by the KGB which the FBI has considered a fake.