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German doctors examine death camp guard Demjanjuk

world Updated: May 13, 2009 16:43 IST

Doctors in a German jail were assessing on Wednesday if an 89-year-old deported from the United States can stand trial on charges he helped herd thousands of Jews into the gas chambers.

However, prosecutors warned that the medical checks on John Demjanjuk, born Ivan Demjanjuk in Ukraine in 1920 and in prison in the southern German city of Munich since arriving from Cleveland yesterday, could take some time.

"I don't expect a decision this week. It will be next week at the earliest," Anton Winkler, spokesman for the Munich chief prosecutors' office, told AFP today.

His lawyer, Ulrich Busch, who plans to visit Demjanjuk in the Stadelheim prison where he is being held at the weekend, his secretary told AFP, claims his client is too ill to go through the stress of a trial.

Demjanjuk's family in the United States, where he was employed for several decades as an auto worker in Ohio, said he was too sick to travel but this week lost their long battle to prevent his deportation.

After arriving by specially chartered plane in Germany, Demjanjuk was taken to jail, given a hearty meal and was then read the charges against him: that he assisted in the murder of at least 29,000 Jews in the Sobibor death camp.