Families of Jews who were slaughtered in Sorbibor death camp said Saturday they were pleased with the conviction of John Demjanjuk, who was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday for his role in the killing of 27,900 Jews as a guard at the Nazi camp.
The families who filed the claim against him added that they support releasing the 91-year old man until the court rules on an appeal his lawyers plan to file against the verdict.
"This conviction is a milestone in the history of trying Nazi criminals," says a statement by Cornelius Nestler, attorney for a number of co-plaintiffs. Most of his clients are Dutch Jews whose family members were killed in the camp.
"It sends a clear message to all violators of human rights, because the time that passes cannot erase the memory of the horrible crimes they committed, and will not affect the obligation to try them in court."
Nestler thanked the court, in the name of his clients, for its final decision and its treatment of the plaintiffs over the past two years.
John Demjanjuk in court (Photo: Reuters)
"They respect the court's decision to release Demjanjuk until the appeal is ruled upon and the sentence begins. In keeping with the law, the court assumed that Demjanjuk was innocent until proven guilty, in the same way that it would have treated any other defendant in Germany."
On Friday Demjanjuk left the Munich prison in which he has been detained during his trial and was transferred by ambulance to an unknown location. He cannot leave Germany as his US passport was revoked following lengthy legal proceedings.
His attorney says he plans to appeal for reinstatement of Demjanjuk's citizenship so he will be able to visit his family in Cleveland, Ohio.
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