The estate of John Demjanjuk, a convicted Nazi war criminal, is asking that the full panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals hear its appeal regarding Demjanjuk’s revoked United States citizenship.
Earlier this summer, a three-judge appellate panel upheld the lower court’s ruling denying the estate’s request to restore Demjanjuk’s citizenship. The estate is fighting for the restoration of Demjanjunk’s citizenship because it would mean that his widow, Vera, would be entitled to receive his Social Security benefits.
Demjanjuk was born in the Ukraine and later became a United States citizen; that citizenship was revoked in 2002, however, and he was deported to Germany in 2009. Two years later, Demjanjuk was convicted in Germany for being an accessory to the murder of over 28,000 prisoners while he served as a prison guard at a death camp in Poland. He was sentenced to five years in prison and was appealing his conviction at the time of his death earlier this year, claiming his was a case of mistaken identity.
Demnjanjuk’s estate argued that his citizenship should be restored because prosecutors withheld an FBI-created document from Demjanjuk that would have aided his defense; the document in question was written by an FBI agent who concluded that Demjanjuk’s alleged Nazi identity card “was quite likely fabricated by the KGB.” Demjanjuk’s legal team say they have since uncovered hundreds of documents only recently declassified that would have also aided their client’s defense.
The district court judge found the document “immaterial and based on speculation and mistaken beliefs,” according to Cleveland.com; the appellate panel also found the argument without merit and the claim moot because Demjanjuk is deceased.
Can revoked United States citizenship be restored posthumously? And if so, will it be in Demjanjuk’s case? Stay tuned.