TEL AVIV (Jul. 11)
The military tribunal trying Kozo Okamoto declined today to order a psychiatric examination for the Japanese “kamikaze” gunman after the prisoner told the court, “I am a normal man from a psychological view point. I am not insane.” The decision represented a set-back for defense counsel Max Kritzman who had asked the tribunal to subject Okamoto to examination by a psychiatric medical committee to determine his mental condition when he and two companions massacred 26 persons at the Lydda Airport passenger terminal May 30.
The tribunal announced its decision in the matter after hearing testimony from a government psychiatrist. Dr. Reuben Meyer, who said that a proper psychiatric examination of Okamoto might last as long as three weeks but that it would yield no results if the subject refused to cooperate. When the court asked Okamoto if he would cooperate, the prisoner replied vehemently in the negative. The tribunal ruled, however, that the defense may raise the point of Okamoto’s mental condition when it opens its case tomorrow.
The tribunal will announce tomorrow whether it will admit as evidence the statement Okamoto made to police following the Lydda Airport massacre. The prosecution said today that if the statement is accepted it would waive all further witnesses–14 in all–who have been invited to testify for the State. But defense counsel asked the court to disregard Okamoto’s statement on grounds that it was made under unusual psychological pressure.
Gen. Rehavam Zeevi, commander of the central command who was present at the interrogation of Okamoto immediately following the massacre confirmed in his testimony today that he had made a deal to allow the prisoner to commit suicide if he told the truth. Gen. Zeevi said he had never intended to carry out the agreement but that he had to “find something to lure him into making a truthful statement.” Witnesses recalled that Okamoto had refused to cooperate with Israeli authorities and expressed the wish that he had died along with his two companions.
Gen. Zeevi reportedly pulled out his pistol, laid it on the table and told Okamoto, “You said you wanted to die. Speak up and the pistol is yours.” Gen. Zeevi did not confirm those details in court today but he said the interrogation wasn’t an ordinary one but an operation interrogation “in which the lives of people might have been involved.” He said “We had to know who were the attackers and if we had all of them either dead or under arrest.” He said he had told Okamoto that in his opinion he was not telling the truth.