LONDON (Jun. 11)
Humanitarian organizations and friends of Heinrich Nathan Speter are working against time to try to save the life of the 53-year-old Bulgarian Jewish economist and former United Nations employe who was sentenced to death by a firing squad in Sofia for allegedly spying for an unnamed country. Reports from the Bulgarian capital said an appeal has been entered against the sentence which was handed down June 1. The latest reports from Sofia said the sentence has not been carried out.
Amnesty International and the International League for the Rights of Man have reportedly intervened with Bulgarian authorities to spare Speter. (At the UN in New York, the staff union held an emergency meeting last week and sent a cable to Sofia on behalf of Speter. UN officials were also reported to have interceded.)
Speter, son of a well-known Jewish physician in Sofia, was described as a brilliant statistician and economist. He served Bulgaria for six years in the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) which is headquartered in Vienna. He was recalled from his post in 1972 for undisclosed reasons. Some circles believed that his unconcealed disillusionment with the Communist regime branded him a political dissident and made him a target for retribution.