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Bulgarian Jewish Chemical Engineer Given is Years at Hard Labor

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Protests are expected to develop here against the reported conviction and sentencing of Solomon Ben-Josef, a 54-year-old Bulgarian Jewish chemical engineer who was given 15 years at hard labor after a secret trial in Sofia last week. According to a terse announcement from the Bulgarian capital, Ben-Josef was convicted for “economic crimes.” But observers believe that he is the victim of trumped up charges simply because he is a Jew.

They see strong similarities with the recent case of Dr. Heinrich Spetter, a prominent Bulgarian Jewish statistician who was sentenced to death on treason charges at a secret trial several months ago but was freed after an international outcry of protest. Spetter is now in Israel.

Like Spetter, Ben-Josef is a member of the Communist Party. He was employed by the directorate for the development of the chemical industry. The directorate has had numerous visitors from Arab countries recently and the presence of Ben-Josef was obviously an embarrassment. This may have been an element in bringing him to trial, circles here believe.

Ben-Josef’s mother and sister live in Israel. His wife and two sons still live in Sofia. Ben-Josef spent a sabbatical leave in Paris in 1970-71 where he was in touch with an international firm interested in the construction of chemical plants. He also visited the Krupp factories in Essen, West Germany. His foreign business contacts may have been used to discredit him much as foreign contacts were used to discredit Spetter, the circles said.

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