NEW YORK (Aug. 22)
Sources in the Syrian Jewish community here said today that the Damascus authorities have dropped murder charges against Yussuf Shaluh and Azuf Zalta in connection with the rape slayings of four Syrian Jewish women last March. Shaluh and Zalta and two Syrian non-Jews were accused originally of murder and of attempting to smuggle Syrian nationals to a foreign country. The smuggling charges have been continued, however, against the two Jews. The four suspects go on trial Aug. 25.
Israeli Supreme Court Justice Haim Cohen told the International Conference for the Deliverance of Jews in the Middle East in Paris last July 3 that the Syrian authorities had decided to cancel the murder charges against Shaluh and Zalta but would try them for attempting to help the four victims leave Syria, a “crime” that could carry a five-year prison sentence, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported at the time.
The comment today from the Syrian Jewish sources was made in reference to an announcement here yesterday that 30 district attorneys from throughout the United States had sent a letter to President Hafez Assad of Syria on the case. The letter asked that a delegation from the National District Attorneys Association be permitted to attend the trial of the four men accused of murdering, or involvement in the murder of, the four, Syrian Jewish women. Preliminary hearings for the trial were held in Damascus in May and June, the NDAA said.