OSLO (Jan. 7)
Six Jews went on trial here today accused of conspiring to kill a Moroccan waiter in a Norwegian resort town last summer under orders from the Israeli intelligence organization, Mossad. The six were led into a crowded, windowless courtroom surrounded by police in bulletproof vests and helmets, and entered pleas of not guilty.
Prosecuting attorney Haakon Wiker claimed in his opening statement that the defendants were members of “an official Israeli counter-terrorist group.” Some of the defendants “may have participated in similar liquidation actions in Rome and Paris.” Wiker claimed.
Photographers were cleared from the room before the six, including two women, were led in. All gave addresses in Israel in response to direct questioning by court officials. The defendants, their ages and alleged professions, are Michael Dorf, 26, student; Zwi Steinberg, 29, businessman; Dan Aerbel, 35, export agent; Sylvia Rafael, 36, teacher; Marianne Gladnik-off, 30, computer programmer; and Abraham Gehmer, 36, also a student.
Wiker described Gehmer as a former Israeli diplomat and said he was “directly associated with Mossad.” Gehmer has allegedly served as a secretary and chauffeur at the Israeli Embassy in Paris. Miss Rafael and Aerbel have worked with Gehmer on several occasions, Wiker said. Evidence to support these claims are to be presented later at a closed session of the court, he added.
GEHMER SAID TO BE LEADER
The six are accused in connection with the July 21 slaying of Ahmed Boushicki, allegedly a member of the Black September terror group, in the town of Lillehammer, 100 miles north of here. Boushicki was gunned down by two men as he and his Norwegian wife returned home from the movies. The gunmen, who are still at large, fired 13 shots and sped away in a yellow Mazda rented car. The Lillehammer murder made headlines around the world when two of the defendants, Dorf and Steinberg, were arrested in the Oslo apartment of an Israeli diplomat, Yigal Eyal, who was later declared persons non grata by the Norwegian government.
The liquidation group counted originally 15 members, Wiker said in his opening statement which took up most of the first day’s proceedings. The group arrived in Norway several weeks before the murder, and began intelligence operations which led them to Boushicki, he said.
Israeli Embassy officials were among those present in the courtroom. Also present was the leading Israeli trial lawyer, Ervin Shimron, retained by Dorf’s and Steinberg’s families. The prosecution singled out Gehmer as the leader of the group. He has apparently been active in intelligence work since he retired as cultural attache and first secretary of the Israeli Embassy in Paris in 1969, prosecution sources said. French police have established that Aerbel, Steinberg and Miss Rafael all have resided in Paris during the past few years, the sources said.