Mrs. Slepak Signed Incriminating Document Under Severe Duress

Mrs. Maria Slepak was suffering intense pain from an inflamed pancreas and was under severe duress from Soviet police interrogators when she was forced to sign a statement that resulted in her indictment on charges of “malicious and hooliganism…which grossly violates public order and shows open disrespect for society,” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned.

The wife of imprisoned Jewish activist Vladimir Slepak described her ordeal in a telephone interview with Mrs. Genya Intrator of Toronto, vice-president of the Canadian Committee for Soviet Jewry. She and her husband were arrested by plainclothesmen on June I after they hung a sign from the balcony of their Moscow flat demanding the right to re-unite with their son in Israel. Mrs. Slepak was subsequently released because of her illness. But she was indicted on June 12 and faces trial on the charges which carry penalties of 1-5 years in jail. Her husband has been indicted on the same charges and is being held in prison pending trial.

The statement Mrs. Slepak was forced to sign said that the couple refused to remove the sign “despite repeated requests by the militia (Moscow police) and by employes of the superintendent of the building…Her stubborn behavior was accompanied by threatening gestures, screams of anti-Soviet slogans and spitting…” Mrs. Slepak said most of the facts described never took place. There was no screaming, no spitting, no anti-Soviet slogans, she said.

She will try to have the transcript declared invalid. According to Mrs. Slepak, she was not fully aware of its contents at the time because she did not have her reading glasses with her. “It could be my last appeal. I don’t know what tomorrow may bring,” she said.

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