ZURICH (Nov. 25)
Mordechai Rachamim, the El Al security guard who gunned down one of four Arab terrorists who attacked an Israel airliner at Zurich airport early this year, arrived here today to face trial. He is charged with murder under extenuating circumstances and faces a minimum penalty of one to five years in prison or a maximum of 10 years imprisonment at hard labor. His lawyers, Hans Meisser and Georg Brunschvig, are confident that the jury will acquit him. Swiss police took elaborate security precautions when Mr. Rachamim arrived because of threats against his life by Arabs. Police reportedly had received information that members of the Popular Front for the liberation of Palestine were in Switzerland intent on murdering Mr. Rachamim in revenge for the slaying of the terrorist.
The young Israeli was driven from the airport by security police to an undisclosed residence near Zurich where he was being guarded by detectives. His trial will open on Thursday at Winterthur, a town considered safer than Zurich from a security standpoint. Mr. Rachamim was accompanied by Gabriel Bach, the Israel State Attorney who will observe the trial and assist the defendant’s lawyers if necessary.
The Winterthur court is linked by an underground tunnel to an adjacent prison where three Arab terrorists are presently incarcerated awaiting trial for murder of an Israeli pilot trainee. Yoram Peress. who was fatally wounded in the Zurich attack. If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. One of the Arabs is a 21-year-old girl who taught school in the Gaza district. They will be tried along with Rachamim.
The defendant will face three judges and a panel of nine jurors. Elaborate security preparations have been made in the court. It is divided by a bullet-proof glass partition behind which only the four defendants and their lawyers will be permitted. Fewer than a half dozen journalists will be admitted to the trial, including JTA correspondent Edwin Eytan. Spectators will also be limited and all persons entering the courtroom will be searched for concealed weapons.