401624 02: (FILE PHOTO) John Demjanjuk stands in his cell at Israels Ayalon Prison June 24, 1993. Demjanjuk had been sentenced to death following his conviction of war crimes and crimes against humanity, a verdict that was eventually overturned on appeal which allowed him to return to the United States. Demjanjuks U.S. citizenship was revoked February 21, 2002 by a U.S. District Court judge ruling that he entered the country illegally by hiding his past as a Nazi death camp guard. The 81-year-old retired auto worker living in Cleveland, OH, could be deported to his native country of Ukraine. (Photo by Yaakov Sa''ar/GPO/Getty Images)
John Demjanjuk, pictured in an Israeli prison cell in 1993.

Twisted history of John Demjanjuk



JERUSALEM // Once the most reviled figure in Israel, Yoram Sheftel looks like a man who misses the attention. At the attorney's office in Tel Aviv, photos of high-profile clients, including the Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky, adorn the wall. But it is for his impassioned defence of John Demjanjuk, an alleged Nazi war criminal, that he is best known. Mr Sheftel, 60, was loathed as the Jew who defended a Nazi. It would be years before people would greet him in the street.

"I was looked upon as the attorney of Satan," Mr Sheftel recalled. "But I knew right from the beginning that there was no credible evidence." Tried and convicted in April 1988 of being the notorious SS guard known as Ivan Grozny, or Ivan the Terrible, at Treblinka during the Second World War, Mr Demjanjuk was freed on appeal after it emerged the Israelis had the wrong man. Embarrassed, Israel released him in 1993 - after seven years in jail - and put him on a plane back to his home in Ohio in the United States.

Now, 16 years after his release, The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, 89, is to be put on trial again, this time in Munich, Germany. Cleared of serving at Treblinka, he stands accused of being an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews in 1943 at the Sobibor death camp in Poland during the Second World War. The trial, which starts tomorrow, will probably mark the last major Nazi war crimes hearing. It will rely on the testimony of 23 witnesses - all of them dead - and documents such as his identity card and camp rosters.

For many Israelis, it is the culmination of their long quest for justice and vengeance. For others, it marks the conclusion of a judicial process that has been flawed since its inception in the 1970s. And Mr Sheftel is not sure he cares."I finished my Demjanjuk case phase. I devoted six-and-a-half years of my life to it. Enough is enough," he said. Mr Sheftel has suffered more than most. Not long before the appeal was scheduled to start, a Holocaust survivor threw acid in his face as he attended the funeral of a lawyer who had committed suicide shortly before he was due to take a seat next to Mr Sheftel on the defence.

Mr Sheftel's sight was saved, and the appeal postponed. In the interim, the Soviet Union collapsed, and evidence surfaced in Moscow that identified Ivan the Terrible as one Ivan Marchenko. In 1993, Mr Demjanjuk was acquitted, but not exonerated. Israeli authorities remained convinced that he had been an accessory in the Final Solution - not as Ivan the Terrible, but as a lesser Wachmann, an SS guard.

"This was the proper course for judges who cannot examine the heart and the mind, but have only what their eyes see and read," Meir Shamgar, presiding judge of the appeal, told the court according to media reports. "The matter is closed, but not complete." Memories of the case are still fresh in many people's minds. Israelis, among them children of Holocaust survivors, were transfixed by the trial, which revisited the events of nearly half a decade before in a way not seen since the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the "architect" of Hitler's Final Solution, in the early 1960s.

Mr Demjanjuk, who first came to the attention of US investigators in 1977, was sent to Israel from the United States for trial in February 1986. The trial opened a year later in Jerusalem. Dalia Dorner, 75, one of the three-judge panel that tried Mr Demjanjuk, recalled that her husband, a survivor of Auschwitz, implored her not to try the case, fearing the painful memories it would evoke. "He didn't want me to bring this home," she said. "I tried not to speak about it. The boys watched me on TV, and said, 'You look terrible, Mother'."

Survivor after survivor recounted the horrors of Treblinka, where 900,000 Jews perished. They focused on the actions of one particularly sadistic SS guard, a Ukrainian called Ivan, the Slavic version of John. According to witnesses, Ivan the Terrible, as he was called, took particular delight in hacking off women's breasts and chopping off prisoners' noses and ears. "When we heard evidence of the survivors, it was very hard," recalled Zvi Tal, 79, another of the judges from the original trial. "A tear appeared in your eye, and you were on TV, and a judge shouldn't be emotional."

The prosecution alleged that after Mr Demjanjuk was taken prisoner at the Battle of Kerch in 1942, he volunteered to train as a Wachmann. Many Ukrainians were said to have collaborated with the Germans, some of them to escape desperate camp conditions. The prosecution maintained that Mr Demjanjuk was sent to Trawniki for training. They claim he then went to Treblinka, where he was the gas chamber operator known as Ivan the Terrible. They produced an identity card in Mr Demjanjuk's name from Trawniki, released by the Soviets years before.

Actually, the card stated that Mr Demjanjuk was a guard at Sobibor, but several Treblinka survivors, who were interviewed in Israel as part of the preliminary US investigation into Mr Demjanjuk's past, identified the Ukrainian as the man they knew as Ivan the Terrible. "That's Ivan," said one survivor, Josef Czarny, pointing to Mr Demjanjuk's photo, media reported at the time. "My God, he lives!" Israeli investigators told the US authorities they must be mistaken about Sobibor, and said Mr Demjanjuk was actually at Treblinka.

(None of the Sobibor survivors questioned remembered Mr Demjanjuk.) Mr Demjanjuk denies that he was at Trawniki, Sobibor or Treblinka, and claims the Trawniki ID card was a Soviet forgery. In his version, he was a prisoner of war in a camp near Chelm in Poland until late 1943, when he was recruited into the anti-Communist "Vlasov" army and sent by the Nazis to Graz in Austria. But there are holes in his story. In his US immigration application in 1951, he lied about his service in the Red Army and said he was a farmer at Sobibor during the war. He later retracted this statement, saying that he had chosen the place at random from a map.

He also listed his mother's maiden name as Marchenko - the surname of the man identified as Ivan the Terrible - later saying he couldn't remember it, and had chosen a common Ukrainian name. (Mr Sheftel claims that the maiden name of Mr Demjanjuk's mother is actually Tabachuk.) He also bears the scars of a tattoo in his armpit that he scratched out. The prosecution alleged it was an SS tattoo, but Mr Demjanjuk claims he was branded by the Germans to indicate his blood type prior to joining the anti-Soviet force.

Mr Demjanjuk was also able to recollect few details of his time at Chelm, a prison camp where he claimed to have spent nearly 18 months. He provided a detailed account of his war experience up to that point. "He was a very simple man, a typical Ukrainian peasant, uneducated, hardly spoke English, could not write in English" despite three decades living in the United States, Mr Sheftel said. Soon after he was sentenced to death, the case unravelled. Soviet archives revealed testimony from more than 30 Soviet Treblinka guards, who identified Ivan the Terrible as Marchenko, and described him as dark haired with a scar on his neck. Mr Demjanjuk was blonde with no scar.

This time, German prosecutors will rely on the documentary evidence to press for a conviction. They will also rely on witness testimony, including that given by a deceased Soviet Trawniki guard, Ignat Danilchenko, in 1949 and 1979, who claimed to have seen Mr Demjanjuk push Jews into gas chambers at Sobibor. Mr Demjanjuk, said by his family to be in poor health, was arrested in April at his home in Ohio in preparation for his extradition to Germany. He had lived in the United States for years, but was stripped of his citizenship nearly a decade ago.

Critics have questioned why Mr Demjanjuk, a foreigner and a guard, should atone for the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis. Documentary evidence may eventually place him at the death camps, but it cannot shed light on what he did. For some survivors, it is an irrelevance. "We can't always prove that someone is guilty, but there's a good statistical probability that he is," said Giselle Cycowicz, 82, a survivor of Auschwitz. "After 65 years, you cannot find absolute proof."

Mr Sheftel, an ardent Zionist who does little to endear himself to Holocaust survivors ("if there had been 1,000 Lanskys, there never would have been a Treblinka"), has remained convinced of Mr Demjanjuk's innocence throughout. Mr Sheftel argued that the first trial was tainted by flawed testimonies and accuses the US office of special investigations of fabricating evidence to ensure a conviction. Crucially, the OSI knew before the trial that Marchenko was their man, not Mr Demjanjuk, Mr Sheftel alleged.

"When the Soviets sent documents showing [Mr Demjanjuk] was not Ivan the Terrible, the OSI simply dumped them," Mr Sheftel said. "It was a clear-cut cover up." (A US appeal court ruled in 1993 that the OSI had displayed a "reckless disregard" for the truth, and that its misconduct amounted to "a fraud on the court".) That Mr Demjanjuk nearly hanged over a case of mistaken identity vindicated those who thought Israel was not the right jurisdiction for such a case. To others, it is to the Israeli Supreme Court's eternal credit that it released Mr Demjanjuk.

As the death sentence was read out, newspaper reports record that the gathered crowd broke into scattered applause. Others said the sentence was received in silence, and only after the judges left the chamber did some start to cheer. Mrs Dorner remembered it as this: "The crowd reacted in a not very correct manner. And [presiding judge] Dov Levin told them so. They clapped, it was terrible. "They were survivors, what could you do? They wanted vengeance."

And now? "I don't look for revenge," said Yitzhak Arad, 83, an expert witness in Mr Demjanjuk's trial who has written extensively about the death camps. "I do think there should be a warning to humanity that it should not happen again in the future." Years later, Dr Arad remains convinced of Mr Demjanjuk's guilt. "I am sure that Demjanjuk is the man Ivan the Terrible in Treblinka," Dr Arad said. "After he was deported from Israel - he just wanted to disappear."

Both Mr Tal and Mrs Dorner agree. "Now that he is being put on trial for Sobibor, I think that if he [is] convicted, there will be partly justice done," Mrs Dorner said. "I can't say I'm glad, but it's right to put him on trial." foreign.desk@thenational.ae

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Iran's dirty tricks to dodge sanctions

There’s increased scrutiny on the tricks being used to keep commodities flowing to and from blacklisted countries. Here’s a description of how some work.

1 Going Dark

A common method to transport Iranian oil with stealth is to turn off the Automatic Identification System, an electronic device that pinpoints a ship’s location. Known as going dark, a vessel flicks the switch before berthing and typically reappears days later, masking the location of its load or discharge port.

2. Ship-to-Ship Transfers

A first vessel will take its clandestine cargo away from the country in question before transferring it to a waiting ship, all of this happening out of sight. The vessels will then sail in different directions. For about a third of Iranian exports, more than one tanker typically handles a load before it’s delivered to its final destination, analysts say.

3. Fake Destinations

Signaling the wrong destination to load or unload is another technique. Ships that intend to take cargo from Iran may indicate their loading ports in sanction-free places like Iraq. Ships can keep changing their destinations and end up not berthing at any of them.

4. Rebranded Barrels

Iranian barrels can also be rebranded as oil from a nation free from sanctions such as Iraq. The countries share fields along their border and the crude has similar characteristics. Oil from these deposits can be trucked out to another port and documents forged to hide Iran as the origin.

* Bloomberg

65

Directors: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods

Stars: Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman

Rating: 2/5

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

The specs

Engine: 3.6-litre, V6
Transmission: eight-speed auto
Power: 285hp
Torque: 353Nm
Price: Dh159,900
On sale: now

States of Passion by Nihad Sirees,
Pushkin Press

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

FIXTURES

Thu Mar 15 – West Indies v Afghanistan, UAE v Scotland
Fri Mar 16 – Ireland v Zimbabwe
Sun Mar 18 – Ireland v Scotland
Mon Mar 19 – West Indies v Zimbabwe
Tue Mar 20 – UAE v Afghanistan
Wed Mar 21 – West Indies v Scotland
Thu Mar 22 – UAE v Zimbabwe
Fri Mar 23 – Ireland v Afghanistan

The top two teams qualify for the World Cup

Classification matches
The top-placed side out of Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong or Nepal will be granted one-day international status. UAE and Scotland have already won ODI status, having qualified for the Super Six.

Thu Mar 15 – Netherlands v Hong Kong, PNG v Nepal
Sat Mar 17 – 7th-8th place playoff, 9th-10th place playoff

The biog

Date of birth: 27 May, 1995

Place of birth: Dubai, UAE

Status: Single

School: Al Ittihad private school in Al Mamzar

University: University of Sharjah

Degree: Renewable and Sustainable Energy

Hobby: I enjoy travelling a lot, not just for fun, but I like to cross things off my bucket list and the map and do something there like a 'green project'.


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