Barracks into Courthouse Okamoto Trial Opens Today at Military Base

A large wooden barracks at a military camp in central Israel has been converted into a courthouse for the trial of Kozo Okamoto scheduled to open tomorrow morning. Reporters, press photographers and TV cameramen are lining up here for special passes to cover the trial of the Japanese “kamikaze” gunman who, with two companions who were slain, killed or fatally wounded 26 people at the Lydda Airport passenger terminal May 30 and wounded more than 70 others. The trial is expected to last a week.

Workmen hurriedly put finishing touches to the barracks which has been fitted with 250 seats. Telephone lines, teleprinters and telex machines have been installed to relay news of the proceedings. A raised platform has been built for photographers. Okamoto will sit on a wooden chair during the trial which has drawn more world-wide attention than any other in Israel since Adolf Eichmann was tried a decade ago. Unlike Eichmann, Okamoto will not be protected by a bullet-proof glass booth.

The prisoner was busy today with a Japanese-English dictionary preparing a long statement that he intends to read to the court in English. His defense attorney, Max Kritzman, and assistant defense counsel David Rotlevy, were still mapping defense strategy which apparently will be based on the contention that Okamoto acted out of insanity. They have received material from Japan, including a statement from Okamoto’s teacher and one from his brother, a professor at a Japanese university.

The three-man military tribunal that will try Okamoto cannot impose capital punishment because only one of its members is a lawyer. Israeli law prohibits the death penalty except by a military tribunal consisting of at least two Jurists.

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