JERUSALEM (Oct. 1)
The Attorney General’s office today denied a published report that Michael Dennis William Rohen, accused of setting fire to the Al Aksa mosque Aug. 21, will stand trial in the same bulletproof glass box used in the trial of Adolf Eichmann. The spokesman said that Mr. Rohen, an Australian Christian, will be tried behind a glass partition.
Haaretz, a Tel Aviv newspaper, reported that Mr. Rohen would go on trial in the same booth used in 1960 in the trial of Eichmann, who was convicted and executed for having sent millions of European Jews to their death. After the execution, the booth was placed in the Museum of the Holocaust in Kibbutz Lohame Hagetaot (Fighters of the Ghetto) as a memorial to the Jews killed by the Nazis.
The Rohen trial will begin Oct. 6. The accused will be tried in a large hall of Jerusalem’s convention center in order to accommodate 400 spectators and newsmen. Israel wants wide publicity of the case in order to offset Arab charges that it was responsible for the fire.
Mr. Rohen has been charged with two counts of arson and two counts of “violation of Holy Places.” He could get a total of 44 years in prison.
A government official said yesterday that the Moslem Religious Council in East Jerusalem was within its rights in barring the Temple Mount area to visitors. The area contains the Dome of the Rock (Mosque of Omar) and the Al Aksa Mosque. Moshe Sasson the Prime Minister’s adviser on minority affairs, was questioned about the ban on a television interview. Israeli authorities closed the Moghrabi gate immediately after the fire to keep Jewish visitors out of the Temple Mount area for fear of inciting Moslems. The Moslem Religious Council, responsible for Moslem shrines, closed the other gates where a toll used to be levied on visitors.
Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem defended his liberal policy toward East Jerusalem Arabs during a debate in the City Council yesterday. Mr. Kollek said his approach had prevented disorders from erupting in East Jerusalem and that maintenance of order in the city encourages Jewish settlement there.