JERUSALEM (Nov. 7)
Defense attorney Aziz Shehade challenged the legal basis for the prosecution of Greek Catholic Archbishop Hilarion Capucci In Jerusalem district court today but did not attempt to refute the charges against his client The Arab lawyer from Ramallah, summing up for the defense, also defended Capucci’s refusal to testify on his own behalf. He said the Archbishop, who heads the Greek Catholic church on the West Bank, was committed to certain principles that did not permit him to recognize the authority of an Israeli court of law in what he regards as Arab Jerusalem.
Shehade claimed that Capucci’s silence should not be interpreted as grounds for conviction. Presiding Judge Miriam Ben Porat said the court was puzzled by his refusal to testify but agreed it did not add weight to the prosecution’s case.
The State’s case was summed up last week by prosecuting attorney Gavriel Bach who said Capucci refused to take the witness stand to answer to charges of smuggling arms to terrorists out of fear. He said the cleric knew he would have to admit to the charges or risk additional charges of perjury. Capucci. who was arrested last Aug., pleaded not guilty on three counts of transporting arms to terrorists in Israel and performing services for illegal organizations. He repudiated confessions he had signed while under police interrogation.