ROME (Mar. 4)
The Italian Supreme Court upheld today the acquittal of Judge Giovanni Durando on charges of offending the Jewish religion in a case which developed during the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem.
Judge Durando, editor of a weekly periodical, published an article declaring that Jews were “to be considered decides in action,” and “unconscientious and permanent authors of Christ’s crucifixion, deprived of the capacity to judge anybody not belonging to their offspring and lacking morality of any value.”
A Jewish group whose members constituted themselves as offended plaintiffs Joined with a public attorney in bringing the charge against Judge Durando who was acquitted by a lower court. The issue went to the Supreme Court on appeal by the plaintiffs.
Jewish sources said the decision of the Supreme Court paved the way for a bid for legislation to equate the Jewish religion with the state Catholic religion in regard to protecting adherents from contempt for religion. This has been a long-standing goal of Italian Jews. The Supreme Court decision clearly indicated the lack of legislation to deal with public expressions of contempt for Judaism, also evidenced in the acquittal earlier this week of three young neo-Fascists who had been sentenced by a lower court for smearing the Pisa synagogue with swastikas.
In the Supreme Court hearing, Pictro Lia, attorney for the plaintiffs, declared that Judge Durando’s comments constituted “obscurantist intolerance worthy of the Middle Ages and apt to stir up hatred and disorder.” The defense argued that the issue was a “purely religious dispute” and not meant to refer to Jews as persons. He cited the statement of the late Pope John XXIII that the death of Christ was to be blamed on all mankind. He argued therefore that the offending article was a religious polemic which could not be considered a violation of criminal law.