NEW YORK (Aug. 25)
The trial of Lev Roitburd, which opened Friday at the Odessa Airport resumed today after the judge declared that testimony by prosecution witnesses was contradictory, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry reported today. The 39-year-old engineer and “refusnik” from Odessa is being charged with “resisting arrest,” According to the NCSJ, reports from the Soviet Union indicate that the trial is being held in the open in an effort to arouse public sentiment against Roitburd.
At the opening of the trial a lecture was given to the airport workers about international problems which, the NCSJ said, amounted to a vicious attack on Zionism, comparing it to fascism. At the end of the lecture, the workers were asked to remain for the formal trial itself so as to prevent “Zionists” outside the airport’s trial room from making provocations during the trial.
Police outside the trial room barred Roitburd’s relatives, except for his wife, mother and one other relative. The main prosecution witnesses were not present, including the policeman who had allegedly been beaten by Roitburd. Those prosecution witnesses who did speak gave muddled and contradictory testimony, the NCSJ reported. Roitburd’s lawyer asked for a postponement and a thorough investigation of the charges which alleged that Roitburd had beat on a policeman when the defendant was prevented from leaving Odessa to go to Moscow in June.
When Roitburd was allowed to speak he was continually interrupted by the audience. The judge then declared a three-hour recess. When the trial resumed Friday, no relatives of Roitburd were permitted into the trial room but airport workers were allowed in. The judge then announced that the testimony was not clear and ordered the trial postponed until this afternoon.