Release of Capucci Expected

The government intends to release Archbishop Hilarion Capucci as soon as it receives an official pardon request from the Pope, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan told the Cabinet at its weekly session today.

The announcement means that the government has already decided in principle to release the clergyman who was sentenced in December, 1974 to 12 years imprisonment for security violations. Negotiations on the release of Capucci have been going on since the Likud government took office. A meeting was held between the Pope in Rome and an Israeli representative on the subject. Premier Menachem Begin and Attorney General Aharon Barak met recently with President Ephraim Katzir and informed him of the intention to release the high-ranking prisoner.

Ever since his trial three years ago, Israel was under consistent pressure to release Capucci. The change of the government gave Israel the appropriate opportunity to make this gesture toward the Christian world. The official pardon procedure is: as the official request arrives from the Vatican, Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir is expected to recommend Capucci’s release to Katzir. The President will then make the final decision.

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