Identifying Ivan: A Case Study in Legal Psychology

Willem Wagenaar, Author Harvard University Press $27.5 (200p) ISBN 978-0-674-44285-6
Earlier this year, a special court in Jerusalem found that extradited Cleveland factory worker and mild-mannered family man John Demjanjuk was actually ``Ivan the Terrible,'' the sadist who operated the gas chambers in Treblinka. Demjanjuk insisted on his innocence, proclaiming he was a victim of mistaken identity. Wagenaar, a psychology professor at the University of Leiden, served as an expert witness on behalf of the defense. In this short, restrained, rigorously detailed study, he uses the trial as case material to propose general procedures for evaluating identification testimony given by eyewitnesses. Though Wagenaar refuses to comment here on the Israeli court's verdict, he claims the trial bordered on a ``total farce'' in its violation of internationally accepted procedures. Even those who are convinced Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible may think twice after reading this disturbing, impressively documented report. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
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