Cairo (Jan. 10)
In a tense courtroom jammed with policemen and soldiers Ephraim Ben Zuri and Eliahu Khakim, Palestine terrorists, admitted today that they had murdered Lord Moyne, British Minister of State in the Middle East, and pleaded guilty also to charges of killing Moyne’s chauffeur and possessing illegal explosives.
Both of the boyish-looking defendants appeared extremely calm as they sat in the prisoners box surrounded by guards, and heard the prosecutor demand the death penalty. The case is being heard by a five-man military court.
First move by the defense was to demand that the case be transferred to a civil court. Under Egyptian law, decisions of a civil court may be appealed, but not of a military tribunal. The defense attorneys – two Egyptians and Briton -argued that the murder of Lord Moyne was a civil and not a military defense.
The change in venue was denied by the court at the request of the prosecutor who said that while the assassination of Moyne and his driver might be civil offenses, the possession of illegal explosives and the charge of attempting to kill a constable came within military jurisdiction, and, therefore, it would not be feasible to divide the proceedings. Khakim Demands Trial by an “International Court”
KHAKIM DEMANDS TRIAL BY AN “INTERNATIONAL COURT”
Khakim demanded that he be tried by “an international court,” which, he said, was the only kind of tribunal that would understand the case. His plea was rejected by the president of the court, who revealed that he had received a cablegram from “an American Jewish organization” urging that the accused be given a fair trail. He assured the defendants that the case would be conducted in complete fairness.
Chief witnesses for the prosecution were the constable who arrested Ben Zuri and Khakim following the assassination and Mrs. Helen Bouselka and her daughter, Mrs. Suzanne Ancona, at whose home Ben Zuri left a wrapped parcel of explosives, telling them that a friend would call for it.
The two women testified that they did not know what was in the package. They brought it to the police when they recognized Ben Zuri’s picture in the newspapers following the murder. They said he had come to their home bearing greetings from another daughter in Palestine and offering to take some parcels to her when he returned there. Ben Zuri refused in court to disclose the purpose of the explosives.
The only charge denied by the two accused was that they attempted to kill the constable. Ben Zuri added that he had not intended to kill Moyne’s driver, either. but was forced to do so when the chauffeur jumped at him. Khakim said he did not want to kill the constable because he was a Egyptian, nor the driver “or anyone engaged in the fight against Hitlerism.”
At one point in the proceedings Ben Zuri charged that the testimony was not being correctly translated into Arabic, and the court adjourned temporarily until Samuel Antebi, a teacher in a local Hebrew school, was called in and accepted as interpreter by defense and prosecution.
After testimony by several of Moyne’s entourage, the prosecution closed its case. Both the prosecutor and the attorneys for the defense agreed to waive testimony by an additional ten witnesses who had been summoned to appear.
The trial will be resumed tomorrow morning when the defense will begin presentation of its arguments.