MUNICH, Germany — A German court put John Demjanjuk on trial Monday to face charges of being an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews at a Nazi death camp, and his lawyer immediately accused the court of bias.
The 89-year-old retired Ohio autoworker arrived at the opening of the trial in a wheelchair to face the final chapter of some 30 years of efforts to prosecute him, wearing a navy baseball cap and covered in a light blue blanket.
After the first 90-minute session, Demjanjuk was returned to the courtroom lying flat on his back on a gurney, covered in blankets.
Doctors who had examined Demjanjuk before the second session began said he had complained of serious pain and was given a shot. They ordered the session be cut short, and it wrapped up 30 minutes later.
Demjanjuk’s attorney had opened the proceedings by filing a motion against the court’s judge and prosecutors, accusing them of treating the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk harsher than Germans who ran the Nazi’s Sobibor death camp in occupied Poland.
Lawyer Ulrich Busch charged that the case should never have been brought to trial. He cited cases in which Germans assigned to Sobibor — where prosecutors allege Demjanjuk served as a guard — were acquitted.
“How can you say that those who gave the orders were innocent . . . and the one who received the orders is guilty?” Busch told the court. “There is a moral and legal double standard being applied today.”
Demjanjuk was deported in May from the United States to Germany, and has been in custody since then. He could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
A doctor who examined Demjanjuk two hours before the trial began said his vital signs were all stable.