Prosecution appeals decision to free Demjanjuk

AP News
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Posted: May 16, 2011 7:12 AM
Prosecution appeals decision to free Demjanjuk

Munich prosecutors have appealed John Demjanjuk's five-year sentence for war crimes and a judge's decision to set him free pending appeal, a spokeswoman said Monday.

The 91-year-old former Ohio autoworker was convicted Thursday on 28,060 counts of being an accessory to murder after the court found he served as a guard at the Nazi's Sobibor death camp. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

The Munich state court ordered his immediate release from prison pending the end of the appeals process, saying that Demjanjuk posed no flight risk. It noted that not only did he require daily medical care but that he was stateless and had no passport.

He was released Friday after prison authorities said they had found a nursing home place for him in the Munich area.

Munich prosecutors' spokeswoman, Barbara Stockinger, said her office had appealed the decision to set him free, arguing that there was a danger that he could flee.

Even without a passport, she noted that in theory Demjanjuk could travel inside Europe's so-called Schengen zone, which has no regular border controls.

"In our view there is a flight risk," she said.

The decision on that appeal will be made in written form from a higher Munich court and it was not clear when it might be handed down, she said.

Prosecutors also filed an appeal of the verdict and sentence, as allowed under German law, Stockinger said. They will not have to file grounds for their appeal until a written version of the verdict is available, which could take months.

Though Demjanjuk was found guilty on all counts he faced, the prosecution had asked for a six-year sentence, more than the five years he was given.

The defense has already appealed the verdict, and the overall appeals process could last up to two years.