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Trial of Leningrad 9 Postponed; Forced to Confess, According to Report; Others Jailed

The trial of nine Russian Jews that was scheduled to start in Leningrad tomorrow has been postponed. Western sources learned today. No reason was given for the postponement and no new trial date was set. The nine have been accused of spreading Zionist propaganda and of failing to inform Soviet authorities of an alleged aerial hijack plot for which nine other Jews and two non-Jews were given stiff prison terms in Leningrad last month. Jewish sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the defendants in the second Leningrad trial apparently had “confessions” wrested from them while in jail. According to these sources, the alleged confessions will be presented in court along with other evidence consisting of Hebrew books and letters from Israel confiscated when their homes were raided and searched by the Soviet secret police last year. According to the same sources, Lieutenant Wolf Zalmanson, a 31-year-old Jewish engineer who had been working on military installations in Riga will go on trial before a military court martial today or tomorrow.

Zalmanson was part of the original group arrested at Leningrad’s Smolny airport last June 15 in an alleged plot to hijack a Soviet airliner but was separated from the rest of the defendants because of his military status. Among the Jews sentenced in Leningrad last month were his brother, Isak, 26, who received an eight year term and his sister, Silva Zalmanson Kuznetsov, who was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. His brother-in-law. Edvard Kuznetsov, was one of the two defendants sentenced to death by the Leningrad City Court, a sentence later commuted to 15 years’ hard labor. The sources also informed the JTA today that two other Jews have been sentenced and imprisoned in Russia in recent weeks. They said that Maj. Grischa Feigin, a World War II hero, was committed to a mental institution after he returned his medals in protest against Soviet anti-Jewish policies. They also reported that Boris Borisov, who had been seeking an exit visa to go to Israel, was sentenced to a three year jail term on charges of “hooliganism” in Leningrad on Dec. 24. There was no direct connection between Borisov’s trial and that of the 11 charged in the aerial hijack plot.

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