An attorney for convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk died Tuesday after jumping from the 15th story of an office tower in an apparent suicide, a police spokesman said.
The death of 53-year-old Dov Eitan came less than a week before Israel's Supreme Court was scheduled to hear Demjanjuk's appeal of his conviction and death sentence for Nazi war crimes. The appeal had been set to begin Monday.Eitan, a former district court judge who recently joined Demjanjuk's defense team, died at 8:30 a.m. after hurling himself from an upper floor of the City Towers office complex in downtown Jerusalem, police spokesman Rafi Levy said.
"He jumped from the 15th floor," Levy said. "There are no other details."
Israel radio reported police found bits of polish from Eitan's shoes on the sill of the window from which he jumped. It said the window was in the lobby of the Ayalon Hotel, which is located on the building's 15th floor.
The radio said Eitan entered the hotel's empty lobby without the receptionist noticing him.
The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was convicted in April of being "Ivan the Terrible," a brutal guard who operated gas chambers in which 850,000 Jews died at the Treblinka death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Demjanjuk, who lived in the Cleveland suburb of Seven Hills before being extradicted to Israel in 1986, claims he is an innocent victim of mistaken identity.
Demjanjuk's son-in-law, Ed Nishnic, said in a telephone interview in Cleveland Tuesday that Eitan was to present 60 percent of Demjanjuk's appeal. He said he doubted Demjanjuk's other attorneys would be able to argue the case next week and was confident the defense would be granted a delay.
John J. Gill of Cleveland, an attorney who previously represented Demjanjuk, also said Eitan's death probably would delay the appeal.