[JURIST] A German court on Thursday convicted retired US autoworker John Demjanjuk [NNDB profile; JURIST news archive] of helping to murder thousands during the Holocaust, sentencing him to five years in prison and then releasing him pending appeal. The judge found that Demjanjuk, 91, served as a guard at the at the Sobidor death camp, assisting in the deaths of nearly 28,000 Jews. The five-year sentence is less than the six years sought by the prosecution [JURIST report]. Judge Ralph Alt ordered his release [DW report] because of his advanced age and because the verdict is not final. Appeals could take another year or more. This is likely to be one of the world’s last Nazi war crimes trials.
Demjanjuk’s trial, which began [JURIST report] in November 2009, was marked by extensive delay. Last May, the court denied a motion to dismiss the charges [JURIST report] filed by the defense, which argued there was a lack of credible evidence. The court rejected the argument, saying they found the evidence against Demjanjuk to be strong. In October 2009, Demjanjuk was found fit to stand trial after the court rejected appeals relating to his health [JURIST reports], although the court limited hearings to no more than two 90-minute sessions per day. Demjanjuk fought a lengthy legal battle over his alleged involvement with Nazi death camps during World War II. He was deported to Germany after the US Supreme Court [official website] denied his stay of deportation [JURIST report].