Jerusalem (Mar. 11)
The death sentence of Simche Hinkis, the Jewish police constable who had been found guilty of murder, was today set aside by a British court of appeal consisting of Judges Baker, Kermack and Mac-Donnell, and a 15-year sentence for murder without premeditation substituted. This is the second death penalty on a Jew that has been set aside, the first being in the case of Joseph Mizrachi Urphali.
Extra editions of the papers, long distance telephone calls and word of mouth instantly flashed to all parts of Palestine the news of the commutation of Hinkis’ sentence which had been foreshadowed on Friday after the successful appeal of Mordecai Eliash, Hinkis’ counsel. The judgment was delivered at 9.30 in the morning and lasted but two minutes. The Chief Justice briefly expressed the court’s unanimous decision convicting the Jewish police officer of only unpremeditated murder in the famous Jaffa case which the Arab counsel at the Inquiry Commission hearings had capitalized.
Hinkis, with his chains clanging, but clean-shaven and bright-eyed, heard the judgment that freed him from the death sentence. Happy smiles diffused the court room, which was filled with lawyers, newspapermen and a number of patient Jews. On the streets, the eager Jews embraced each other and congratulated themselves on what is being termed here a partial triumph of justice.
The 23-year-old police corporal had been sentenced to death for the murder of an Arab family of five, between Tel Aviv and Jaffa, on August 23. The charge against him was that on the day of the crime, after learning that Benjamin Goldberg and his friends had been murdered, Hinkis doffed his police cap, removed the number of his regiment and joined the crowd that stormed the house in which five Arabs were killed and two wounded.
The entire case of the prosecution was predicated on reports of experts who identified the marks of the cartridges that were fired with those on Hinkis’ rifles and on reports of his movements in the neighborhood on the day of the murders. Great tension marked the trial which opened in Jaffa, January 3, and on February 5 he was sentenced to death.
The appeal which was immediately filed was heard on Friday and the Court reserved judgment. Hinkis’ counsel argued during the hearing on the appeal that the death sentence should be set aside because the lower court had convicted the youthful police officer on the strength of nothing but expert evidence and that even if circumstantial evidence were accepted, premeditation had not been proven.
When Hinkis was sentenced, the entire Jewish community was shocked and amazed. Hinkis insisted on his innocence and repeated it in a touching letter to his parents in Rovno.