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Israel Supreme Court Rejects Petition for Retrial of Kastner Case

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Supreme Court President Yitzhak Olshan today dismissed a petition for a retrial of the Kastner-Gruenwald case in which Malkiel Gruenwald, a Hungarian immigrant, was found guilty of libeling Israel Kastner, a wartime Hungarian Jewish leader, by calling him a Nazi collaborator.

Gruenwald had at first been given a token fine by the Jerusalem District Court which described Kastner as a man “who had sold his soul to the devil. ” The Israel Supreme Court, however, in ruling on an appeal of the case in 1958, cleared Kastner’s motives in his dealings with the Nazis and gave Gruenwald a one-year suspended jail sentence. Kastner was assassinated near his home in Tel Aviv early in 1957.

In rejecting the petition for a new trial by Gruenwald’s attorney, Shmuel Tamir, Justice Olshan accepted the recommendation of the Attorney General that the claim of new evidence uncovered during the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 was not valid.

Mr. Tamir had asked for the new trial on the basis of a transcript of an interview given by Eichmann to a Dutch journalist some years before he was captured in Argentina, which, Mr. Tamir said, proved that Kastner helped to send masses of Hungarian Jews to their doom in consideration for permission to send a few hundred Jews, including Kastner’s own relatives, to Palestine.

Justice Olshan held that it would be a miscarriage of justice to reopen the trial on the basis of a questionable interview without the possibility of examining Kastner and Eichmann. He noted that at the Gruenwald trial, Kastner claimed the transcript was not an accurate record of the interview.

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