Witness Refutes Testimony That Stern Took Bribe to Keep Him out of Army

The prosecution of Dr. Mikhail Stern of Vinnitsa suffered a setback yesterday when a witness refuted the testimony of his mother that the Jewish physician had accepted a 200 ruble bribe to certify that the youth was unfit for military service, Jewish sources in the Soviet Union reported today. The young man said that as far as he knew. Dr. Stern had nothing to do with his exemption from military service. He testified that the factory where he worked had secured his exemption because he was considered indispensable.

Later, a four-man commission of experts appointed by the court testified that the youth in question was indeed unfit for military service, Dr. Stern said he had never seen the man before. According to reports from Jewish spectators permitted in the courtroom, the prosecution case seems to be built on the testimony of coached witnesses. Seventeen witnesses for the state so far have retracted testimony damaging to Dr. Stern who is accused of accepting bribes and procuring illegal drugs for patients in return for payment. The 18th witness was the. woman who alleged the bribe.

Meanwhile, Dr. Stern’s sons, Viktor and August, have refused to withdraw their complaint against a KGB agent who searched their father’s home before he was arrested last May. Both have been threatened with prosecution for slander unless they retract their charge that a KGB man surnamed Kravchenko had told them that the search was ordered because Dr. Stern applied for a visa to go to Israel.

The Stern brothers lodged their formal complaint with the Chief Prosecutor of the Soviet Union. Roman Rudenko and were later summoned by the Vinnitsa deputy prosecutor who threatened them with a slander action, Jewish sources reported. They said they would not withdraw their charges under any circumstances.

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