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No Deal on Capucci Sentence

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Archbishop Hillarion Gapucci will serve out his 12-year sentence for smuggling arms to terrorists in Israel, a highly-placed source told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency yesterday after a meeting Monday night between Justice Minister Haim Zadok and a Greek Catholic delegation seeking the Archbishop’s release.

The source said there were no “negotiations” for possible conditions for the Archbishop’s release, adding that the delegation members had not suggested any terms for a “deal” and neither had Zadok. Zadok reportedly told the clergymen that the Capucci case should not damage relations between Israel and the Church. He reiterated that Capucci had received a fair trial and that the government believed he must serve out his sentence.

It was reported, meanwhile, that the Archbishop had asked some of his colleagues to convey his offer to Premier Yitzhak Rabin to serve as a mediator between Israel and the Arab states. For such a role, he would have to be released from prison. There have been reports from Arab terrorist sources that Israel had sought the release of Syrian Jewry in exchange for Capucci’s freedom — “but who is offering that?” the source asked rhetorically.

The Archbishop is confined alone in a cell and is provided with bread and wine mornings and evenings for his religious rites. He takes his food willingly but in concentrated liquid from as a kind of protest hunger strike. The source said Capucci could well “live till 120″ on that diet.

He is visited by Red Cross officials, as are all security prisoners from the administered areas, and by his deputies in the Greek Catholic hierarchy. His attorney, A. Shehadeh of Ramallah, has not yet filed an appeal against the conviction and sentence by the Jerusalem District Court on Dec. 9. The appeal must be filed within six weeks from the sentencing date.

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