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First Nazi Trial to Open in Israel; 52 Witnesses Summoned to Testify

The first trial in Israel under the recently enacted law giving the government power to try and punish, if convicted, Nazis and Nazi collaborators found within the territory of the Jewish state will open here this week.

The defendant, who will face a magistrate in a preliminary hearing in the next few days, is 31-year-old Andrei Banek, a Slovak non-Jew who entered Israel in July, 1949, together with his Jewish wife. Bunek is charged with having been a member of the Slovak pro-Nazi Hlinka Guard, with having served on a Nazi newspaper, with having stolen Jewish property during the period following the collapse of the Czechoslovak Republic and with the murder of at least one Jewish child.

Banek was recognized by inmates of an immigrant transit camp as soon as he arrived in Israel and was reported. However, in the absence of legal authority to hold him the police released the Slovak who later fled to Nazareth to hide. He was rearrested recently after passage of the law providing punishment for persons who aided the Nazis. Fifty witnesses, including one who said he was a witness to the murder of a Jewish child by Banek, have been assembled by the prosecution, while two will testify in behalf of the defendant.

Under questioning, Banek admitted having been arrested in Czechoslovakia after the end of the Nazi regime, but said he was released because of insufficient evidence against him. In 1949 Banek and his wife, whom some of the witnesses accuse of having surrendered her Jewish faith, applied for emigration to Canada, where it is believed money he misappropriated during the Nazi regime is hidden.

Banek also admitted membership in the Hlinka organization, but insists that he was not a secretary of the group. He denies charges of having committed terrorist acts against Jews, denies he killed any Jews, and insists that he rescued a number of them. However, he cannot produce witnesses to support the last contention.

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