Grodno, Poland (Nov. 18)
The reason for the mild sentences of six months to a year meted out to eleven Poles
convicted of participation in the anti-Jewish riots of last June was explained by the judge in his decision as follows:
The seventeen accused “who were found guilty had taken part in these criminal acts. Without Panasiuk, the chief accused, the excesses against the Jews would probably have not taken place. It was he who had incited and led the mob. The rest of the accused were merely blind instruments of Panasiuk’s will.
“In deciding the degree of guilt of the accused, the court has taken as a precedent the judgment of the Polish High Court to the effect that if a persion is being tried for taking part in disorders he cannot at the same time be tried for instigating those disorders. So far as the six of the accused who were acquitted is concerned, their guilt has not been proved….
“The whole thing is really simple. A certain anti-Jewish sentiment was abroad in the city and this was exploited by Panasiuk and his comrades, who did not realize that because a Jew had killed Kusez (a Pole whose murder led up to the riots) not every Jew was guilty of the murder…..The court has, therefore, decided to punish the accused in a very mild way.
“So far as Panasiuk is concerned, the court took into account the fact that he had never yet been convicted and also that he had made a confession. The court hopes that Panasiuk will realize that such a fight against the Jews can only harm the Polish State, particularly as far as international opinion is concerned. The other mild sentences are due to the fact that the court has come to the conclusion that the accused were not actuated very much by any feelings of ill-will towards the Jews.”