Considerable interest attaches here to the appeal against the two year sentence imposed on the Jewish student Shmuel Wulfin, who was found guilty of participating in the events leading to the death of a Christian student killed during the anti-Semitic excesses in November, last spring, a sentence which the court of appeal has now reduced to two months imprisonment.
The original verdict against Wulfin had aroused particular indignation among Polish Jewry and among Jewish opinion in other parts of the world because the court in order to explain the verdict declared that the Vilna disturbances were the result of the feeling of enmity that exists among Jews against all Christians, especially Poles, because of the sufferings inflicted on them during the course of centuries by the Inquisition and the Christian world as a whole.
The appeal court was to have heard the appeal on August 26th, but the hearing was adjourned at the last minute till September 1st, and it was freely suggested in this connection that it had been done because the new Polish penal code enters into force on September 1st, and under this the maximum sentence for the offense for which Wulfin was tried is only six months’ imprisonment. It was, therefore, expected that the sentence would be reduced from two years to only a few months.
The proceedings lasted all day, and the verdict was handed down at a late hour, fulfilling the expectation that the court would set aside the anti-Polish motivation and would pass a much smaller sentence on Wulfin, if it did not acquit him as his Counsel demanded.
The appeal court found Wulfin again guilty of being in the mob which had injured Waclawski, so that he died of his injuries.
The period of six weeks preventive arrest in which Wulfin was kept immediately after the outbreak is not included in the sentence.
The appeal court has annulled, however, the paragraphs in the verdict which had attributed the rioting to the anti-Polish feeling of the Jewish population, and has handed down its decision that there were no anti-Polish and no anti-Jewish disturbances, but only quarrelling between individuals.
When the case opened the Public Prosecutor proposed that the court should eliminate the consideration of historical or national questions in dealing with the case. The court refused to accede, however, to his request, which greatly gratified the defense, who were anxious to obtain a definite state-