Bulgarian Jew Charged and Tried for Second Offense While Appealing Death Sentence on First Offense

Dr. Heinrich Spetter, the 55-year-old Bulgarian Jewish economist who was sentenced to death on May 31, was disclosed today to have been charged and tried in Sofia on July 17 for an alleged second offense while his appeal from the death sentence is pending. The appeal against the death sentence, for alleged espionage, will be heard in Sofia on Aug. 5. Information about the second trial has not reached the West.

Efforts to save the Jewish economist, which began as soon as the first sentence was imposed, are continuing. Observers here said the spying charge appears to be completely without foundation and that the circumstances of his arrest and first trial indicate a monstrous miscarriage of Justice.

As a representative of Bulgaria on the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), he served for two years in New York and for five years in Vienna, to which UNIDO transferred his office. During his Vienna tour of duty, he visited Israel for the first time in 1972. It was reported that the spy charges were developed from that visit.

CHARGED WITH CURRENCY OFFENSE

Before his return to Bulgaria at the end of 1972. he received a $5000 prize from UNIDO. There are letters showing he planned to use the award money to buy an apartment in Sofia but he was nevertheless charged with a currency offense, for which he was tried July 17. Amnesty International’s secretary general Martin Ennals, has appealed to Todo Zhivkov, the Bulgarian head of state, to spare Dr. Spetter but no reply has been received. Dr. Spetter asserted his innocence throughout. He said “I am innocent” to a visitor who recently spoke to him in his jail cell.

The trial on the charge of espionage took place in the Sofia district court and lasted four days. Only Dr. Spetter’s wife was admitted into the courtroom. The public was removed, and the public seats were occupied by 40 State security men.

Dr. Spetter was defended in court by a distinguished Bulgarian lawyer, the secretary of the lawyers’ guild, and a member of the Communist Party–Velichko Ivanov. The defense attorney presented a powerful case, but the court took little notice of his arguments, convicted Dr. Spetter of espionage and sentenced him to death. Ivanov then appealed the conviction and sentence.

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