Rumanian Authorities Asked to Release Imprisoned Jewish Leaders

The Israel Association of Jews from Rumania has appealed to the Rumanian authorities to release the 200-odd Jewish and Zionist leaders under arrest in that country and has asked the Israel Government to appeal to the Soviet Union to use its good offices to help expedite the release of the Jews, it was revealed here today by officers of the Association. They also disclosed that the organization had appealed to the Rumanian authorities to permit Jews with family members in Israel to migrate from Rumania to the Jewish State.

Speaking at a press conference here, the Association spokesmen said that they had received information from Rumania that five Zionist leaders had been sentenced to prison terms of from ten to 18 years, following their conviction on charges that included sabotage and undermining the security of the Rumanian state. Their prosecutor was Eugen Christchenko, an anti-Semite who had served as head of the Rumanian police during the Fascist Antonescu regime.

The five defendants, all of whom pleaded innocent to the charges, were: Dr. Edgar Kenner, who headed the Revisionist Party in Rumania; S. Schittonowitzer, Pascue Shechter, and two men identified only as Horowitz and Tabakaro.

It was also revealed that a second trial of Jewish leaders opened in Bucharest Oct. 4, but no information about the proceedings is available here. Among the defendants is Michael Benvenisti, former president of the Zionist Federation of Rumania; his wife, who served as a clerk at the Israel legation in Bucharest; Dr. Jean Cohen, former president of the World Jewish Congress’ Rumanian section, Jean Littman, a WJC leader and director of the Jewish secondary school in Bucharest, and Miss Jetta Leibovitz, Mapam leader in Rumania. It is known, the Association officials said, that the defendants have been given an opportunity to defend themselves.

In the memorandum on immigration, the Association pointed out that there were 250, 000 Jews in Rumania who had registered for migration to Israel. There were at least 50,000 elderly Jews now in Israel who had children still living in Rumania, the Association leaders pointed out, adding that their appeal for the release of these people was made on a humanitarian basis.

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