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17 Poles Get off with Light Sentences for Grodno Riots

Seventeen Poles, found guilty of participating in anti-Jewish riots in this city last June which resulted in the death of two Jews and the wounding of thirteen others, were today given light sentences by the district court.

Alfons Panasiuk, leader of the seventeen, who had been accused of fomenting the riot, was sentenced to serve one year in prison. Four others in the gang received sentences of nine months each and the remainder were let off with six-month sentences.

The court, in passing sentence, made no explanation of their lightness.

Only one of the defendants voiced regret at having taken part in the murder of the two Jews. The others made anti-Semitic speeches in which they declared that they did not regret their role in the excesses since the Jews “are parasites and Poland’s enemies.”

When the trial resumed yesterday after having been adjourned since Friday, the prosecuting attorney called attention to the fact that the excesses had taken place shortly after the death of Marshall Pilsudski. He demanded severe punishment for the guilty in order to prove to the world that Poland “is not the place for taking the law into one’s own hands.”

The Jewish attorneys emphasized the role of the Endeks (members of the anti-Semitic National Democratic Party) in the excesses which, they charged, were the result of systematic anti-Jewish agitation.

In sharp anti-Semitic speeches, the Endek counsel had recourse to arguments similar to those used in the famous Mendel Beilis case which rocked Russia and the world in 1913. The attorneys quoted false quotations from the Talmud and charged that the Jewish witnesses were not trustworthy. Police investigation into the riots shortly after they occurred last June established that they had been organized from a dance-hall after the burial of Wladislaw Kuscz, a gangster who had been slain in a brawl. The official police report stated the riots had been “organized by underworld characters.” In addition to the two deaths and injuries inflicted on thirteen Jews, windows were broken in 183 houses and 85 stores, and the total material damage amounted to about $6,000.

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