JERUSALEM (Aug. 26)
The Supreme Court today rejected, for the time being, and on procedural grounds, an appeal by 10 Arab terrorists captured in an Israeli raid into Lebanon last Sept. who are being tried by an Israeli military tribunal. The 10, in appeals filed through their defense lawyers, claimed that the tribunal was not competent to try them, that they were brought to Israel against their wills and that their trial is a contravention of international law.
In rejecting their appeal, a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court held that the accused must exhaust the proceedings within the military tribunal before they can appeal to the highest civilian court in the land.
The terrorists, who claim to be citizens of Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Qatar, are on trial for membership in a terrorist organization and for intent to do harm to Israel. The charges were filed against them under a new Israeli law which permits Israel to try and punish anyone for acts aimed against Israel even if carried out on foreign soil. Defense lawyers have argued that the accused were unaware of the fact that they were violating a law when they were recruited by the Arab terrorist organizations. The lawyers also claimed that the Israeli law was illegal. They said that Israel cannot expand its jurisdiction at will.
Pierre LeBlanc, a Swiss lawyer hired by a left-wing organization in Geneva to attend the trial as an observer, said last week that Israel had the right to try the terrorists according to its own law but suggested that Israel would have done better to treat them as prisoners of war.
LeBlanc, who said he is “not an anti-Zionist or anything else,” pointed out that the 10 men on trial did not take part in any action against Israel and were not captured in Israel. He warned that Israel’s law under which they were brought to trial a month ago could be used against it. By the same principle, an Arab country could place on trial any Israeli they managed to capture, LeBlanc said, for serving in Israel’s armed forces. He also noted that a man should know what the law imposes on his deeds. In his case, the Arabs were not aware of the punishment that awaits them for being members of a terrorist organization, the Swiss lawyer said.