Wiesenthal Center Calls Upon Spanish Government to Extradite Former Concentration Camp Guards Identified in the United States
June 23, 2008
Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today called upon the Spanish government to extradite four former Nazi guards, currently living in the United States, who served in concentration camps in which numerous Spanish citizens were tortured and murdered during World War II. The Center’s appeal, issued today in Jerusalem by its chief Nazi hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, comes in the wake of a petition filed late last week in Madrid, with the Center’s support, by “Equipo Nizkor” a Spanish human-rights organization, which called upon the Spain judicial authorities to request the extradition of Ivan Demjanjuk, Johann Lepprich, Josias Kumpf and Anton Tittjung, for their service in Flossenburg (Demjanjuk), Mauthausen (Lepprich and Tittjung) and Sachsenhausen (Kumpf). All four have already been ordered deported from the U.S. for concealing their wartime activities, but none has hereto been accepted by any country, as a result of which they are still residing in the United States.
According to Zuroff:
“The willingness of the Spanish authorities to prosecute these Nazi war criminals would be of great significance given the current impasse in their cases in the US. Holding accountable guards from these camps in which so many innocent Spaniards were murdered would be a form of historic justice, which is reinforced by Spain’s decades-long role as a haven for such prominent Holocaust perpetrators as Ante Pavelic and Leon Degrelle.”
Group seeks to have John Demjanjuk tried in Spain
An international civil rights group has asked that John Demjanjuk be extradited to Spain on charges that he tortured Spaniards at Nazi concentration camps.
A judge in Spain is expected to decide within months whether to approve the request, a decision that could put Demjanjuk on trial, again, for war crimes.
The request is an attempt to clear a diplomatic hurdle to get Demjanjuk out of the country for his wartime past. Demjanjuk has been ordered deported by U.S. judges but, as of yet, no country has agreed to accept him.
The civil rights group, Equipo Nizkor, accused the 88-year-old Seven Hills man on Monday of serving as a guard at the Flossenburg concentration camp in Germany, where 30,000 Jews and other prisoners died from unsanitary conditions, malnutrition and other atrocities.
Last week, Germany announced that it also may seek extradition against Demjanjuk, accusing him of torture at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. German authorities told the Associated Press that a decision could come by the end of the summer.
U.S. judges ruled that Demjanjuk served as a Nazi guard at the Trawniki guard camp and Majdanek concentration camp, in addition to Sobibor and Flossenburg.
Demjanjuk has denied the allegations. His family says he suffers from a blood disorder and is too frail to travel and stand trial.
"This is taking it to the ridiculous," said Edward Nishnic, a spokesman for Demjanjuk's family.
"It's another form of harassment against a very old and very frail man," Nishnic said.
Equipo Nizkor also accused three other men - Johann Leprich, Anton Tittjung and Josias Kumpf, all 83 - of working as camp guards. The group said the men worked at Mauthausen in Nazi-occupied Austria and at Sachsenhausen and Flossenburg in Germany. The documents say Spaniards were held in those camps during World War II.
So why, after 63 years, did the civil rights group pressure Spain to charge the men criminally?
It was all a matter of timing.
Demjanjuk and the other men have been ordered deported from the United States. All but Kumpf have exhausted their appeals and have been waiting for a country to accept them, but none has. Tittjung has been waiting since 2000.
Efraim Zuroff, the chief Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, said he worked for months to find a way to get the men out of the United States.
Zuroff said he and Madrid attorney Gloria Trinidad joined forces with Equipo Nizkor because federal judges in the United States ruled the four men had served at camps where Spaniards were held.
"Holding accountable guards from these camps in which so many innocent Spaniards were murdered would be a form of historic justice," Zuroff said. He said he was unaware of Germany's plans.
Told that Demjanjuk is 88 and frail, Richard Wilson, a member of the organization, said he has no sympathy.
"So were their victims," said Wilson, a law professor at American University in Washington, D.C. "The people who say these men are too old have never been through the trauma of this."
Spanish laws are much broader than in the United States. People and their attorneys are permitted to file criminal allegations against others, but a judge must determine whether the cases have merit. The Spaniards are expected to mirror the evidence that U.S. federal prosecutors used against Demjanjuk and the others.
Nishnic, Demjanjuk's spokesman, said other countries have tried similar tactics. He said Poland, which was investigating Demjanjuk for his work at Sobibor, refused to bring charges because it could never gain a conviction.
The request to extradite the men outraged Joseph McGinness, the Cleveland attorney who represented Anton Tittjung and Johann Leprich.
"What country wants an . . . old man with medical bills and bad health?" he said. "None."
[Source: By John Caniglia, Cleveland Metro, Us, 23Jun08]
Alleged Nazis faces charges in Spanish court
Washington Post, US, 24Jun08]
A human rights group has asked a Spanish court to indict four alleged former Nazi concentration camp guards and seek their extradition from the United States over the deaths of Spanish citizens, a lawyer said Tuesday.
The Brussels-based rights organization, Equipo Nizkor, names the suspects as John Demjanjuk, a retired, 88-year-old auto worker in Ohio who is also being sought by Germany; Anton Tittjung; Josias Kumpf; and Johann Leprich.
All four face deportation from the United States but no country is willing to take them in, the group said.
The group said it is acting under Spain's principle of universal jurisdiction. This states that war crimes, crimes against humanity, terrorism, torture and other heinous offenses can be prosecuted in Spain even if they are alleged to have been committed abroad.
Spanish judges have used the principle to go after the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and figures from Argentina's so-called "dirty war" of the 1970s and 80s, among other people.
In this case, Equipo Nizkor lawyer Gloria Trinidad said, the fact that thousands of Spanish citizens died in Nazi camps where the four suspects allegedly worked is another reason _ although not a necessary one _ for Spain's National Court to charge them.
The group's complaint says the suspects served as guards in the concentration camps at Flossenberg and Sachsenhausen, in Germany, and Mauthausen, in Nazi-occupied Austria.
Spaniards who ended up at these and other Nazi camps were mainly people from the leftist Republican side in the Spanish Civil War who fled to France and were captured while fighting German troops.
At Mauthausen alone, for instance, more than 7,000 Spaniards were incarcerated and at least 4,300 of them were killed, Equipo Nizkor said. It said this figure came from documents submitted to several courts, mainly the one that oversaw the Nuremberg trials that followed World War II.
The new lawsuit was filed at Spain's National Court on June 19.
The next step is for a prosecutor to issue a nonbinding recommendation on whether the court should agree to study the case. Then the court itself has to decide whether to accept the case and consider filing charges, Trinidad said. She said the process could take months.