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Capucci Pleads Not Guilty

Archbishop Hillarion Capucci pleaded not guilty today to charges of delivering arms to terrorists in Israel and having contacts with terrorist agents. He entered his plea after the Jerusalem District Court rejected his lawyer’s claim that Capucci could not be tried in East Jerusalem because that city’s political status is in dispute. The court also rejected Capucci’s claim to diplomatic immunity.

The prelate of the Greek Catholic Church whose diocese covers East Jerusalem and the West Bank, was arrested last Aug, 8. He reportedly confessed to police interrogators that he had indeed committed the acts with which he has been charged. When his trial opened last Friday, he refused to enter any plea pending the outcome of his lawyer’s motions.

The court asserted today that there was no doubt that Israel applies Israeli law, its judicial system and administration to East Jerusalem and therefore it was permissible to try the accused there. The court also said it was the defendant’s duty to prove he was entitled to diplomatic immunity, which Capucci has not done, More than 30 prosecution witnesses are expected to testify during six court sessions which will begin Oct. 10. The court’s secretariat decided, with the agreement of both sides, to translate the court proceedings from Hebrew into English and not into Arabic.