Kastner Assassins Released in Israel After Commutation by Shazar

Yosef Menkes, 45, and Zeev Eckstein, 30, convicted assassins of Dr. Rudolf Kastner, one-time leader of the Hungarian Jews during the Nazi era, were released from prison yesterday after six-and-a half-years.

They were sentenced in 1958 to terms of life imprisonment, but their sentences were commuted by President Shazar as one of his first acts in office. Dr. Kastner was killed on March 3, 1957, as he returned to his home from his work as night editor of a local Hungarian-language daily. He had been the subject of a widespread two-year public debate in Israel on the issue of whether he had collaborated with the Nazis when he arranged for the emigration of more than 600 Jews from Nazi-occupied Hungary. In January 1958, the Israel Supreme Court exonerated him posthumously of the charges.

Menkes told newsmen that he would demand a reopening of the case, contending that he was innocent, and that he was “framed” by a “group of traitors.” The court which convicted him found that he had been the planner of the staying.

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