Holocaust survivors have accused John Demjanjuk of exaggerating his health problems to try to derail his trial ahead of harrowing testimony on the horrors of the Sobibor Nazi death camp.
A lawyer for the alleged Nazi guard, charged with helping to kill 29,700 people, in turn hit out at ‘double standard’ in German justice by bringing action against a lowly soldier who did not give the orders.
Mr Demjanjuk was wheeled, moaning, into the second day of his trial on a stretcher, although unlike yesterday he was propped up and not lying down.
He had his eyes closed throughout but was clearly conscious.
He remained motionless as the judge read out the names of some of the tens of thousands of people murdered in the gas chambers of Sobibor at the time when Mr Demjanjuk was alleged to have served there.
He groaned again as the charges were read out in the court, clutching his head. He was taken out of the courtroom for several minutes, returning this time with a blanket covering him from the neck down and lying on his side.
The judge then offered Mr Demjanjuk the chance to speak, but his lawyer Ulrich Busch said his client would exercise his right to remain silent.
On Monday, while at one point he was lying flat on the stretcher covered head-to-toe in a white blanket, he later was seen laughing and joking after the day's hearing.
His behaviour angered many of the elderly Holocaust survivors, some of whom made it out of Sobibor, who had come to Munich to testify in the trial either as co-plaintiffs or as witnesses. None, however, can place Demjanjuk at the camp.
‘I am sure he is faking his condition,’ said Thomas Blatt, an 82-year-old Sobibor survivor, originally from Germany, now living in Los Angeles.
David Van Huiden, 78, whose entire family never came back from Sobibor, said he was angry because being on a stretcher meant that Mr Demjanjuk would not have to come face to face with any of those giving evidence.
‘It is difficult to accept that he does not have to face anyone. It doesn't matter whether I am here or not,’ he said.
‘The guards were all murderers,’ Robert Franzman, another Dutch plaintiff, told reporters.
The family of the 89-year-old, who denies ever being at Sobibor, says he suffers from leukaemia and other illnesses and that he will probably not survive the trial.
But medical experts cast doubt on how ill Mr Demjanjuk is and told the court he was well enough to be tried.
Proceedings are already limited to two 90-minute sessions per day.