Court Rules Capucci Not Immune from Prosecution Because of Status

A Jerusalem District Court judge today rejected defense claims that Archbishop Hillarion Capucci is immune from prosecution because of his clerical status and ordered the Greek Catholic prelate’s detention extended “until completion of legal proceedings in his case.”

Capucci was indicted here Monday on three counts of performing services for El Fatah; illegally transporting and possessing weapons; and maintaining contacts with foreign agents. If found guilty he could be sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on each of the first two counts, and 15 years on the third. Yesterday, his attorney, Aziz Shehade, sought a dismissal from Judge Miriam Ben Porat on grounds that Capucci carried a special service passport approved by the Foreign Ministry and therefore could not be tried under Israeli law.

Judge Ben Porat also rejected an appeal by Capucci that he be transferred from jail to house arrest. He claimed that his treatment by prison guards and the nature of his quarters were not in accord with the treatment he was entitled to under church law and international law.

Shehade asked that his client be transferred to his home or to his church or to the Latrun monastery on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. State prosecutor Gabriel Bach opposed the appeal because of the grave nature of the charges against the cleric. Judge Ben Porat said she was confident that the prison authorities would see to it that Capucci is treated in keeping with his status. She urged the authorities, however, to set a trial date as soon as possible.

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