JERUSALEM (Aug. 25)
Dr. Heinrich Spetter, the Bulgarian Jewish economist who arrived in Israel suddenly Thursday, said today he did not know why Bulgarian authorities had decided to release him after first rejecting his plea for amnesty in the death sentence against him. Discussing the events that took him from a death cell in Sofia to a Tel Aviv apartment, Spetter said he believed he owed his release to the intensive public campaign in his behalf. On his arrival, Spetter’s only comment was: “I was born anew.”
Spetter was arrested in Sofia in Nov., 1973 and was charged with spying. A Sofia municipal court sentenced him to death on July 1. He appealed to the Supreme Court, but that court approved the lower court’s sentence. He then appealed to the people’s council and asked for amnesty, but before his case was reviewed, he was told he would be released and he could go to Israel.
“While in Prison I had very little hope that I would be saved,” he said. “At most I thought my death sentence would be replaced by a 20-year imprisonment, when suddenly they told me I was to be released and I could leave for Israel in two days.”
WAS NOT TORTURED IN PRISON
Spetter said he would stay in Israel, as a new immigrant. He had been in the country for a week’s visit in April, 1972, thus probably causing anger in Sofia, since he had not asked for permission. “It is a fact that trip was used by the Bulgarians to secure my conviction,” he said. Spetter who served in the United Nations as a representative of the Bulgarian government, did not know, he said, why he was arrested. When asked directly whether he was a spy, he preferred not to answer. He stressed that he was not tortured in prison.
Spetter’s wife, mother and son remain for the time being in Bulgaria. The son is serving in the Bulgarian army. In reaction to a question about a statement in which his wife condemned his activities, Spetter said it was obvious that his wife would ask for a divorce. He said that according to Bulgarian custom when a man is charged with such severe charges as he was, the wife usually asks to divorce him. “Now she can cancel the request,” he said. He said he hoped his family would join him. He had seen his wife only since his arrest.
Spetter, wearing a crew cut given him while in prison, looked well, younger than his 53 years. He said he was not worried about finding a job. “After all, I have a profession and I can speak five languages,” he told reporters. Spetter has a large family in Tel Aviv.