BASLE (Jun. 11)
The prosecutor in the trial of two alleged Israeli agents accused of coercion of the daughter of Dr. Paul Goercke, West German scientist working on non-conventional weapons in Egypt, today asked the state criminal court to find them guilty and to impose mild prison sentences on them.
Dr. Karl Wieland, summing up for the prosecution, asked that Joseph Ben Gal, 33, of Israel, be given a three-month prison term and a three-year suspended sentence. He asked 100 days imprisonment for Otto Jokelik, a three-year suspended sentence and a fine of 1,000 francs ($250). In both sentences, Dr. Wieland said he would agree to deduct from the sentences the time the two defendants spent in pre-trial detention.
The two defendants were arrested March 2 and charged with trying to coerce Dr. Goercke to drop his missile work for Egypt and return home, by threatening his daughter, Heidi Goercke. The prosecutor also asked that the defendants be barred from entering Switzerland again for 15 years.
Shortly before the session concluded this evening, Dr. A. Woolf, the attorney for the Goercke family, said in a surprise move that the family would accept a verdict of a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs on each defendant without any prison term, as damages to the Goercke children, Heidi and her brother, Reiner. He pledged that the Goercke family would contribute the same amount to a charitable fund of their own choosing.
SAYS HE UNDERSTANDS THE DANGER FOR ISRAEL FROM EGYPTIAN ROCKETS
Dr. Wieland, in his summation, manifested a sympathetic understanding for Ben-Gal, declaring: “I can easily understand the reasons which compelled the defendant to act as he did. We understand the danger wherein Israel finds itself from German scientists building rockets in Egypt.” He added, however, that his understanding of Ben-Gal’s motives did not preclude the right “and even the obligation” of Swiss authorities “not to permit the law to be trespassed.”
The Swiss prosecutor paid tribute to Ben-Gal’s “patriotism,” but said he was convinced that Ben-Gal had acted as a professional agent interested in hiding his identity. He added that he found less reason to understand the acts of Dr. Jokelik, asserting that Dr. Jokelik had “worked on behalf of a foreign country” in the case and that his past had shown that he was “not above a certain elasticity in his sentiments and actions.”
Dr. Woolf, in offering to accept fines without prison terms, also said that “one could easily understand Ben-Gal’s action which was prompted by a deep apprehension for his country and for its future.”
Prior to the prosecution’s summation, Dr. Jokelik was questioned by Ben-Gal’s defense attorney, Dr. Joseph Brunschvig. The defendant said that Egyptian rearmament could have serious consequences for Israel. Referring to documents supplied him by the attorney, Dr. Jokelik, a specialist in radioactive energy, said huge physical installations had been made possible in Egypt through recent acquisitions of raw materials of a strategic nature. Ben-Gal, in parallel testimony, asserted that Egypt had the capability to build nearly 100 missiles equipped with radioactive warheads as well as other types of non-conventional weapons.
DEFENDANTS TESTIFY ON THEIR TALK WITH THE SCIENTIST’S DAUGHTER
Both defendants told the court of their meetings with Miss Goercke and her brother, Reiner, at Drei Koenige Hotel in Basle. Ben-Gal said: “There never was any question of what would happen to her father if he did not return. I only told Fraulein Goercke that if the Egyptian rocket project materializes–and I do assume that the Egyptians would not keep their rockets in storage and would use them against Israel–her father would automatically become a war criminal because of his participation in the project.” The defendant added that “there is no doubt today that the entire world condemns any person involved in such a thing as the destruction of Israel and this condemnation would be apparent as it had been in the Nuremberg war crimes trials after the war or recently in the Eichmann case.”
Presiding Judge Hebelri then asked Ben-Gal: “Do you personally consider it immoral to act against war criminals with illegal means?” The defendant replied that “I cannot give you a clear answer on this. In some instances it is not an immoral act against war criminals, whatever the means but in this particular case, we did not need any other means as we could easily stick to legal methods which seemed adequate.”
The defendants also testified that Miss Goercke had indicated that her father wanted to leave his Egyptian assignment and return to West Germany but that he was afraid of what would happen to him and frequently mentioned the Krug case, involving another West German scientist who reportedly was kidnapped by the Egyptians when he indicated he wanted to leave their employ.
MISS GOERCKE WAS INTERESTED IN HELPING HER FATHER LEAVE EGYPT
The defendant told the court that Miss Goercke was interested in helping her father to return to West Germany. They testified that they had even begun a discussion with her on financial details of who would pay for tickets for her and her brother to go to Egypt to try to persuade Prof. Goercke to quit his rocket work. Ben-Gal testified that he had been scheduled to telephone Miss Goercke on March 5 or March 6 to get an exact answer as to when she planned to go to Egypt. They were arrested on March 2.
Both Ben-Gal and Dr. Jokelik denied under oath that they had given Miss Goercke an ultimatum asking her to have her father return to West Germany before April 26. Miss Goercke herself repeatedly contradicted her testimony on this question, first mentioning a date in April and then one in June.
Ben Gal testified that he said to Miss Goercke: “Please have your father return before Egyptian independence day when the rockets are due to be ready. Should he return before the program is completed, we will appreciate it as afterwards it will probably be too late and the work will have been done” on the rockets. Ben-Gal also testified that he and Dr. Jokelik “wanted to give Prof. Goercke a chance because we knew he had never been a Nazi and never had Nazi sympathies.”
Miss Goercke came to court accompanied by an Egyptian named Dr. Sameh who said he was the woman’s physician, adding she had recently undergone surgery. It was generally believed, however, that he was an Egyptian secret serviceman sent to watch her.
Another witness was Reine Goercke, the woman’s brother, whose testimony took on a weird aspect when defense attorney Brunschvig asked whether it was true he had claimed he was “able to recognize a Jew at sight.” The young German replied: “I recognize Jews at sight. First of all, I can recognize them by the shape of their hands. All Jews have short and stubby fingers. Their faces also have the same traits as those I have seen in a photo of a Jew in a book once.” The court listened with considerable interest to this statement which could have come direct from Nazi sources.