British Court Rejects Plea for Writ to Halt Deportation of Exodus Refugees

The High Court today rejected the Jewish Agency’s appeal for a writ of habeas corpus to halt the deportation of the Exodus refugees to Germany.

The court ruled that their deportation was valid under the Emergency Defense Regulations of Palestine. It added that the deportation order had such extrateritorial effect as was necessary to implement it.

In arguments prior to the decision, Denis N. Pritt, Independent M.P. who acted as counsel for the Agency, charged that the deportees were placed on the transports which carried them from Haifa under false pretenses, since leaflets distributted to them said that they were being taken to Cyprus. He insisted that this was a tast case, since if the refugees could be lawfully transported to Hamburg, they could be taken anywhere, even “to the lion’s cage in the zoo.”

An affidavit from Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, by the Solicitor General, said that the deportation order had been issued by the High Commissioner under the Emergency Defense Regulations and that the refugees had been removed from the Exodus by “the Palestine military authorities.” It added that the refugees were not suffering from curtailment of their liberty, except as was necessary “for the safety of themselves or the ships.”

Replying, Pritt said that there was no such body as the “Palestine military authorities,” since they were British troops. Pritt clashed several times with the Solicitor General, who charged that he was injecting politics into a legal proceeding. At one point when Pritt said that it had been established that Palestino was to be a Jewish National Home, the Solicitor General interrupted to say that the statement was not supported by evidence. Pritt replied he was merely quoting the provisions of the Mandate.

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