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Germany

Demjanjuk witness to be charged with war crimes

A man who was to testify as a witness in the trial of alleged concentration camp guard John Demjanjuk is now under investigation for taking part in the same war crimes of which Demjanjuk stands accused.

A rose attached to a fence in front of Berlin's Holocaust monument

The witness may have been complicit in hundreds of thousands of murders

German news magazine Der Spiegel reports in its Monday edition that the witness, identified only as Samuel K., is "suspected of assisting in the gruesome murder of at least 434,000 people" when he was a guard at the Belzec death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Samuel K., an 88-year-old man who lives near Bonn, had given descriptions of his time as a guard to investigators in 1969, 1975, 1980 and again this past June.

"It was clear to us that Jews were killed there and were later burned, too. We could smell it every day," the magazine quotes K. as saying.

Like Demjanjuk, K. was a Ukrainian soldier taken prisoner by the Nazis. German authorities say the men volunteered or were recruited to serve as guards in concentration camps. Demjanjuk allegedly served in Sobibor and is accused of being an accessory to the murder of 27,900 people, mostly Jews. Spiegel said that K. fully acknowledged serving as a guard in the Belzec death camp.

But, unlike Demjanjuk, who had emigrated to the United States, K. obtained German citizenship and has lived in Germany for the last 60 years.

Demjanjuk was extradited to Germany in September. His trial is scheduled to begin November 30 in Munich.

svs/AFP/dpa
Editor: Rick Demarest

DW.DE