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Posted Saturday, February 19, 2000

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Friday, Feb. 18, 2000; 6:30 p.m. EST

Case Against Alleged Nazi Guard OK'd

By M.R. Kropko
Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND -- The government's second attempt to revoke John Demjanjuk's citizenship because he allegedly served as a Nazi concentration camp guard can move forward, a judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Paul R. Matia on Thursday denied a motion from Demjanjuk's lawyers asking him to dismiss the Justice Department's civil case against him.

"We will review this decision with our lawyers and act accordingly. I can't comment further, because we have an active case before the judge," Ed Nishnic, Demjanjuk's son-in-law and the family's spokesman, said Friday.

Michael E. Tigar, Demjanjuk's lawyer, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

A Justice Department official said the decision speaks for itself.

"Obviously we're pleased, and we are looking forward to going to trial on March 26 of next year as the judge has ordered," said Eli Rosenbaum, director of the department's Office of Special Investigations.

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, 79, a retired auto worker who lives in suburban Seven Hills, lost his U.S. citizenship in 1981 and regained it in 1998.

In 1988, he was sentenced to die in Israel after being convicted as the Treblinka death camp guard "Ivan the Terrible." He was freed five years later when evidence indicated he was a victim of mistaken identity.

In May, the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigation filed a new civil complaint to strip Demjanjuk of his citizenship and said he had been a guard at several Nazi death camps. But the "Ivan the Terrible" allegations are no longer a part of the government's case.

The government said Demjanjuk lied in a U.S. visa application when he said he spent World War II as a laborer in Poland and Germany. He entered the United States in 1952 and became a citizen six years later.

Lawyers for Demjanjuk contended in July that the government's latest attempt to strip the alleged Nazi death camp guard of his U.S. citizenship constitutes double jeopardy. But Matia ruled that the protection against being tried twice for the same offense does not apply in a citizenship case, because the issues involved are civil, not criminal.

© Copyright 2000 The Associated Press

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