AMSTERDAM (Mar. 5)
The Netherlands government announced last night that it has decided not to release, for the time being, the last three Nazi war criminals serving sentences in Breda prison. But the television announcement by Premier Barend Biesheuvel and Justice Minister Andries Van Agt did not preclude the eventual release of the prisoners on an individual basis. The government leaders said the decision took serious account of last Wednesday’s 85-61 vote by the Dutch Parliament against pardons.
However, the government plans to examine the mental and physical condition of each prisoner by a committee of experts who have the confidence of various groups opposed to a pardon. The prisoners are Franz Fischer, 70, Joseph Kotaella, 65 and Ferdinand Aus Den Fuenten, 73. All have been imprisoned since 1945.
The local Jewish community continued to be split over the issue. Rabbi Abraham Soetendorp, 29, of the Amsterdam Liberal Congregation, who is considered the main spokesman for the Jewish community following his father’s retirement last week, expressed regret that the government has not definitely rejected clemency for the ex-Nazis. But Prof. August Belinfante, a former Rector of Amsterdam University and a Jewish spokesman, sharply condemned the anti-pardon demonstrations while Parliament was debating last week, and the attacks on the Justice Minister.