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Dutch Court Nullifies Menten Conviction: Orders New Trial

The Dutch Supreme Court nullified the conviction of Nazi war criminal Pieter Menten today and ordered a new trial for the 78-year-old millionaire art dealer who is serving a 15 year prison sentence for the murders of Jews and others in the Lemberg area of eastern Galicia during World War II. Menten was convicted by an Amsterdam district court last December 14.

He was found guilty of mass murders, mostly of Jews, in the village of Podhorodze in July, 1941, in what was then part of Poland but is now Soviet territory. He was acquitted of similar crimes in the nearby village of Uryce for lack of evidence. The victims there were almost exclusively Jewish.

The Supreme Court took the position that the Amsterdam court had not sufficiently investigated Menten’s claim that in 1952 he had obtained an oral promise from the then Minister of Justice Leendert Donker, that he would not be prosecuted for his activities during World War II. Although a Dutch national, Menten served as an officer in the SS.

The high court ordered that his new trial be held before a special tribunal in The Hague. No date was set. Menten will remain in the prison hospital in Scheveningen where he has been undergoing treatment for various ailments.

ISRAELIS SURPRISED BY DECISION

(Israelis reacted with surprise and disappointment today over the action by the Dutch Supreme Court. Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir said however that Israel has the highest respect for the Dutch judicial system and will cooperate with the Netherlands authority to see to it that justice is served. “According to our previous experience, we are convinced that the Dutch authorities will cooperate with Israel to bring justice in this case,” he said.

(Haviv Kena’an, an Israeli journalist whose investigative reporting exposed Menten’s war-time activities and led to his arrest in 1976, said today that he will continue to provide documentation until the Dutch war criminal is properly punished.)

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