A Munich court issued an arrest warrant for John Demjanjuk, who is charged with more than 29,000 counts of accessory to murder for his time as a guard at a Nazi concentration camp in Poland.
Demjanjuk said he was not involved in the deaths for which he has been charged
German prosecutors claim that Demjanjuk served as a Nazi guard at the Sobibor death camp in present-day Poland between March and late September 1943.
The move by the Munich court on Wednesday, March 11, could represent the first steps in paving the way for the extradition of Demjanjuk from the United States, where the 88-year-old has lived since the 1950s.
Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel in 1986 on suspicion of being the sadistic Nazi guard known as "Ivan the Terrible" of the Treblinka death camp. He was convicted and sentenced to death, but was then freed by a court that doubted the veracity of some of the evidence. Since the trial, evidence has been found to establish Demjanjuk's SS membership and that he served as a guard in Sobibor.
In the current attempt to bring him to justice, Munich prosecutors applied for the warrant based on a document from Bavarian criminal investigators that testified to the authenticity of the SS identity card provided by US officials.
"The accused is currently still in the United States," a court official said in a statement released in Munich. "As soon as he arrives in Germany he will be questioned and tried."
Some questioned the authenticity of Demjanjuk's ID card
The United States, which has already stripped Demjanjuk of his citizenship, said late Wednesday that it would continue to lend support to Germany as it prosecutes the Ukrainian-born suspect.
Demjanjuk, a retired auto worker in the US state of Ohio, battled US authorities over his citizenship revocation for years, only to lose last year.
Demjanjuk lived in Munich as a refugee shortly after the end of the World War II before settling in the United States in 1952.
However, allegations that he worked at the death camp have dogged him since the late 1970s.