Greek Catholic Leader Arrested on Suspicion of Aiding Fatah Members
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Greek Catholic Leader Arrested on Suspicion of Aiding Fatah Members

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Archbishop Hillarion Capucci, the 52-year-old head of the Greek Catholic Church in East Jerusalem was arrested this morning by Israeli security forces on suspicion of aiding members of the El Fatah terrorist organization. Archbishop Capucci, who lives in the Beit Hanina suburb of East Jerusalem, is suspected of acting as a liaison for the Fatah command in Lebanon and of bringing weapons and sabotage materials from Lebanon to terrorists on the West Bank.

According to the police, suspicion focused on the Archbishop after he reported a theft of some $75,000 in cash from his apartment a few months ago. After the arrest of two Arab suspects, police found that the sum stolen actually amounted to some $750,000 in cash. At this stage, Archbishop Capucci withdrew his complaint, saying that the money had been returned.

However, the police were not satisfied with the explanation and began investigating deeper into the matter. Ten days ago, a day after Archbishop Capucci returned from a visit to Lebanon, his car was stopped as he was en route to downtown Jerusalem. Police said they found a large quantity of weapons, including submachine guns, pistols, hand grenades and explosives hidden in the car.

The Archbishop was detained at the time but released for “operational reasons” according to a police spokesman. However, after false rumors that he was about to leave for Lebanon, he was arrested again at 7 A.M. today at his home. He is expected to be brought before a magistrate’s court within 48 hours, according to police. This is one of the few times since the establishment of Israel that a religious leader has been arrested in connection with a security case.


Archbishop Capucci, who is Patriarchal Vicar of the Greek Catholic Church in Jerusalem, was born in Aleppo, Syria. He has been head of the Greek Catholic Church in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Jaffa, Ramla, Lod and Ceasaria since 1965, and has been a rival to Archbishop Yusuf Raya, head of the Greek Catholic Church in Israel, who won world publicity about a year-and-a-half ago for his persistent fight for the return of villagers to the deserted Arab villages of Biram and Irkit on the Lebanese border.

Archbishop Capucci’s community includes some 4,500 of the 35,000 Greek Catholics under Israeli jurisdiction. The Greek Catholic Church is part of the Catholic family of churches and recognizes nominally the primacy of the Pope. He is directly responsible to Patriarch Maximus the Fifth, who resides in Beirut.

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