TEL AVIV (Sep. 21)
Pinchas Lavon, Acting Defense Minister in the absence of Premier David Ben Gurion, today freed six of the 13 youths convicted of membership and activity in a terrorist organization and reduced the sentence of a seventh, in a review of the decision of a military tribunal. The 13, members of a group which attempted to burn cars belonging to the Czech and Soviet legations earlier this year, were given sentences ranging from one to three years.
Five of the defendants, all juveniles sentenced to one or two years in jail, were freed. The sixth, Zeev Badian, had been given four years as one of the leaders of the group which the government had charged with engineering the bombing of the Soviet legation in Tel Aviv last February. His fiancee, Miss Yaffa Dromit, onetime underground radio announcer for the Stern Group, had her sentence reduced to three years.
Minister Lavon approved the sentences of Yaacov Heruti, who received a 10-year prison term, Shimon Bachar, 12 years, and Abraham Mandel, three years, because they had all been convicted of stealing military documents in addition to their other activities. Bachar, who was sentenced in absentia, escaped from jail during the trial and still remains at large.
The Minister’s decision was handed down after week-long disturbances in the Tel Mond prison by the defendants. A continuous battle had been in progress between the prisoners and the guards, and the prisoners had spent more time in solitary confinement than out of it. The parents of the youths had even demanded that the President of Israel, Itzhak Ben Zvi, intervene to ease the situation in the prison.