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Germany court begins trial of accused Nazi guard

[JURIST] The trial of alleged Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk [NNDB profile, JURIST news archive] began in Germany on Monday. It marks the first time a Nazi war crimes trial will focus on a low-ranking foreigner rather than a commander. The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk faces 27,900 accessory accounts stemming from his alleged involvement as a guard at Sobibor [Death Camps backgrounder] concentration camp. It is alleged that he volunteered to work at Sobibor [Abendzeitung report, in German] after being captured by German forces while serving as a member of the Soviet army. Multiple appeals were filed in regards to Demjanjuk's health, but he was found fit to stand trial and his appeals were rejected [JURIST reports] in October, paving the way for the trial to begin. The court is limiting the hearings to no more than two-90 minute sessions per day and is monitoring Demjanjuk's health. The trial is expected to last until May.

Demjanjuk's trial has been described [Spiegel report] as the last major Nazi war crimes trial to be held in Germany, but earlier this month German prosecutors charged [JURIST report] an unidentified 90-year-old German with 58 counts of murder stemming from his involvement with the Nazi party during World War II. A similar case is pending in the Spanish courts after the German appeals court in September permitted the case against three men alleged to be former Nazi guards to continue [JURIST report] in Spain.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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