Menu JTA Search

Canadian Royal Commission Assail’s Police Brutality Against Rabbi

Rabbi Norbert Leiner, of New Jersey, who was detained in Toronto here more than a year ago as a suspect sought by police for burglary, had been arrested “illegally, ” was subjected by the arresting officers to “foul and abusive language, ” and was “struck in the face twice without any justification whatever, ” an Ontario Government Royal Commission found here this weekend.

The report on the Leiner case, which was probed by the Royal Commission since January 1962, was filed here by the head of the commission, Justice Dalton Wells. According to the report, however, Rabbi Leiner did refuse to respond to “reasonable questions” posed by the arresting officers. The policemen, on the other hand, were absolved of intentional anti-Semitism but were criticized for not understanding the religious contentions of a rabbi who, legitimately, objected to riding in a police van on a Friday night or to signing police documents on the Sabbath.

Rabbi Leiner, who is suing 18 policemen for beating him, was arrested on a Friday night, on January 26, 1962, as he was on his way home from religious services. He was a teacher in a Hebrew school in this city at the time. Justice Wells pointed out in his report that the rabbi in no way resembled the suspect for whom the police had spread a dragnet.

The Canadian Jewish Congress was represented at the hearings before the Royal Commission by two attorneys, Sydney M. Harris and J. Sydney Midanik, and presented a brief on the case. The Association for Civil Liberties and the Canadian Bar Association had also intervened in the case.

The Royal Commission’s findings were released by Attorney General Fred Gass who said he was forwarding the entire record in the case to the Metro Police Commission for action.

NEXT STORY