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Trial of 57 Rumanians Charged with Murdering 14,000 Jassy Jews Opens in Bucharest

The trial of 57 Rumanian officers, civil officials and civilians-charged with participating in, or being responsible for, the Jassy massacre of 1941 in which 14,000 Jews lost their lives opened here today before the five-man Bucharest Court of Appeals. Of the 151 persons originally charged with participation or responsibility for the pogrom, only 57 have been indicted this time and only 31 defendants were in the dock when the trial opened.

The formal charge is “having exterminated members of the civilian population out of racial intolerance.” The most severe punishment for the offense is life imprisonment, since Rumania recently abolished capital punishment. Three prosecutors have been assigned to handle the case which is expected to take more than a week to present. Some 200 witnesses are scheduled to be heard. The Bucharest bar has already assigned 25 lawyers to defend the 57, and others will soon be assigned to the case.

The first day’s proceedings were almost exclusively devoted to a reading of the 15,000-word indictment. The indictment relates many of the horrible scenes of the massacre seven years ago and the deportation of the survivors in two trains. During the several-days-long journeys of the prison trains 2,500 Jews perished because of lack of air, food and water.

MILITARY LEADERS AMONG MAJOR DEFENDANTS; CHARGED WITH AIDING POGROM

Chief defendant is General Gheorghe Stavrescu, commander of the Fourth Infantry Division, whose troops were used to round up Jewish men in Jassy and herd then to the police station where they were later shot. Although he was present in the town during the massacre, Stavrescu insists that he had nothing to do with the crime and that he can prove that he saved the lives of several Jews. The prosecution also has established that he ordered the deportation of the town’s Jewish population on the two death trains. He asserts that he ordered the “evacuation” to save the lives of the Jews, because the commander of the German troops in the town had threatened to kill all Jews who remained.

Another of the major defendants is Col. Consatantu Lupu, military commander of Jassy on the day the massacre occurred. The indictment charges that he had all the necessary forces at his command to maintain law and order in the town that day, but did not intervene despite the fact that it was his responsibility. Col. Dumitru Captaru, prefect of the Jassy district, is being tried, for organizing the deportation of the survivors of the pogrom.

Lt. Col. Constantin Ionecu-Mikandru, chief of the Rumanian liaison section between the German and Rumanian intelligence staffs, is charged with having planned the pogrom when he and his German counterpart, Major Alexander Hermann von Stransky, visited the town just prior to the Germen invasion of the Soviet Union. Lt. Col. Dentibiu Marinescu, who was captain of the railway guards at the town of Targu-Frumos, is charged with having caused the death of 700 of the deported Jews by refusing to permit them to leave to the at Targu-Frumos and forcing them to continue on their journey. This, despite the fact that he had already received an order from Vice-Premier Mihai Antonescu to permit the Jews to leave their box-car prisons.

Other defendants include Lt. Aurel Triandaf, commander of one of the death trains, who is charged with torturing his prisoners; Ion Botez, a police officer at Tragu-Frumos, who robbed the bodies of 650 Jews unloaded from the trains at that town; and Adrian Pascu and Iron Francois Boetz, editors of the Jassy newspaper, who promoted a pogrom spirit in the town by their articles. Also being tried at the same time is Col. Ermil Mateias, commander of the 65th Infantry Regiment, whose troops massacred 311 Jews from the town of Sculeni. Although this was a separate incident Mate## has been included in the general indictment.

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