Riga Four Get 1-3 Years at Strict Labor; Prosecutor Had Asked for Up to 4 Years

The four defendants in the Riga trial were sentenced today to 1-3 year terms at “strict labor,” according to reports received here. The only surprise in the announcement of the verdict was that Arkady Shpilberg received the 3-year term instead of the 4 years asked for yesterday by the prosecutor. There was no immediate explanation for this lesser sentence. Mikhail Shepshelovich was sentenced to 2 years and Miss Ruth Aleksandrovich and Boris Maftsier were sentenced to 1 year each. No appeal is possible because the case was tried in Latvia’s highest court. The time already served in prison while awaiting trial is expected to be deducted from the sentences. Miss Aleksandrovich had been imprisoned seven months and Maftsier nine months. The Riga Four were officially charged with “organizing the publication and distribution of writings containing slanderous fabrications that cast aspersions on the Soviet State and social system.” The defendants maintained that they were not guilty of any anti-Soviet activities.

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