Law Professor in Effort to Start Legal Action on Shcharansky’s Behalf

Dr. Irwin Cotler, professor of law at McGill University and a leading civil rights lawyer, has left for Israel and Europe to discuss with the wife of Anatoly Shcharansky and other Soviet activist emigrants about the possibility of starting legal action on Shcharansky’s behalf.

When Avitol Shcharansky was in Montreal several weeks ago, she gave Cotler power of attorney to act as counsel for her husband who has been imprisoned in a prison in Moscow for nine months.

In an interview with Barbars from on CBC-TV’s “As It Happens,” over the weekend, Cotler said that “Shcharansky is a symbol of human rights and his case is a litmus test of the validity and the efficacy of the Helsinki accords.” He noted that Shcharansky, a leading Moscow Jewish activist, has been held incommunicado in prison, denied access to a counsel or visits from his mother, and has already been convicted of treason by the Soviet press, all in violation of the USSR’s own constitution and principles of justice.

Cotler pointed out that the Soviets recently extended the investigation period in order to hold Shcharansky and stressed that “International protests will be more important than ever. If the Soviet Union senses the world is indifferent they will move against Shcharansky and the dissident movement a whole. It is important that the Soviet’s appellate the political rests to them of this basic a prevision of human rights.”

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