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Capucci Sentenced to 59 Years in Jail on 6 Counts; Will Serve Only 12 Years As Sentences Are Concurr

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Hillarion Capucci the Greek Catholic Archbishop of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, was sentenced to a total of 59 years’ imprisonment today on six counts of smuggling arms to terrorists in Israel having contacts with terrorist agents and serving an illegal organization. The 51-year-old cleric will serve a maximum of only 12 years, however, as the six sentences will run concurrently.

Judge Miriam Ben Porat of the Jerusalem District Court, who pronounced the sentences, said that Capucci had exploited his high office and abused Israel’s hospitality. She recalled that the Foreign Ministry had issued him a special permit at the Vatican’s request to travel freely between Israel and Lebanon and that he had used that privilege to commit acts against Israel.

Capucci was sentenced to two terms of 12 year each for contacts with EI Fatah agents in Beirut on three different occasions, and one term of five years for unlawfully transporting arms. He received three 10-year terms for rendering services to EI Fatah. Capucci was arrested last August when police who had him under surveillance stopped his car and found it crammed with arms. As he was led away from the court after sentencing he smiled and waved at several dozen priests, nuns and other supporters who filled the courtroom.

CAPUCCI WILL NOT BE DEPORTED

Well informed sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the government had no intention of deporting Capucci and intended that he serve out the sentence imposed by the court. That information scotched rumors that the government would free Capucci and exile him to an Arab state once the legal process ran its course.

The sources also stated that no pressure or requests on Capucci’s behalf have been received from the Vatican or from “any serious church body.” They said the fact Capucci’s name has appeared on lists of prisoners whose release has been demanded by terrorists in exchange for hostages played no part in the government’s decision. Terrorist attacks such as the assaults on Beisan and Rihaniya will continue whether or not Capucci is deported, they said.

The cleric was permitted by the court to read a “Prayer to Jesus” after he was sentenced in which he declared that he believed in peace, sanctified love and would “sanctify the precious land named Palestine.” His lawyer. Aziz Shehadeh, a prominent attorney from Ramallah who is regarded as a moderate among West Bank leaders, asked for a suspended sentence but the court rejected his appeal. State Attorney Gabriel Bach who conducted the prosecution’s case, demanded that the sentences run consecutively, in which case Capucci would be likely to spend the rest of his life in Jail. But the court decided that all terms would run concurrently.

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