Munich state court spokeswoman Margarete Noetzel said this week that
under German law, Demjanjuk is "still technically presumed innocent,"
because he died before his final appeal could be heard, and "a person
is presumed innocent until proven guilty."
pictured last year holding up No. 1627- the number of the KGB files
Demjanjuk said would prove his innocence - died Saturday, aged 91, in a
care home in
Asked by Haaretz if that means there is no record of Demjanjuk's
conviction, Noetzel replied, "Yes, it means Mr. Demjanjuk has no
Since Demjanjuk's conviction cannot be validated legally, due to his
death, the conviction remains "merely as an historic fact," Noetzel
Last May, Demjanjuk was convicted in Germany of 28,060 counts of being
an accessory to murder at the Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland and
sentenced to five years in prison. He appealed to a higher court and
was allowed to wait for the court's verdict on his appeal in a nursing
home in south Germany. That is where he died this week.
Demjanjuk's German lawyer, Dr. Ulrich Busch, told Haaretz that the
Munich court published the statement regarding his client's presumed
innocence at his demand.
"After my client's death, a false statement was distributed to the
effect that Mr. Demjanjuk died as a convicted war criminal," Busch told
Haaretz in an exchange of e-mails. "The German and international media
accepted this version and sullied my client, portraying him as one who
led 28,000 people to the gas chambers."
Busch said he demanded the legal authorities in Germany issue a
clarification saying his client "died innocent and without conviction,"
and that his conviction by a lower court "is invalid.
"The statement issued now clears my client's name and restores his
dignity," he said.
"It's a great consolation to his family, which is grieving over the
loss of a husband and father, who died alone in far away Germany,"
He described Ukraine-born Demjanjuk's conviction as a "legal scandal."
"I was and still am convinced the Supreme Court would have granted his
appeal and acquitted him this year, had he not died before the
procedure ended," he said.