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First Legal Appeal on Behalf of Shcharansky Launched in Canada

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The first legal appeal on behalf of imprisoned Soviet Jewish activist Anatoly Shcharansky was launched yesterday in Ottawa. A 1000-page document containing material rebutting evidence given against Shcharansky at his trial in Moscow last month was delivered to the Soviet Embassy. The document, which was accepted by an Embassy official, was addressed to the Procurator-General of the Soviet Union.

Irwin Cotler, a professor of law at McGill University, who is representing Avital Shcharansky and in whose name he delivered the document, told a press conference in the capital that the document is an appeal to the Soviet Union to overturn the court’s decision because there were at least 40 major violations by the USSR of its own constitutional, criminal and procedural laws during the proceedings. “The action is designed to meet the Soviets on their own ground and is intended to demonstrate that the rule of law compels Shcharansky’s release,” Cotler said.

Cotler, who appeared at the press conference with Mrs. Shcharansky, said he was under no illusion that the Soviet Union would respond to the document but hoped that the evidence placed before the “court of public opinion” would increase pressure on Moscow to reverse the 13-year jail and prison camp sentence and free Shcharansky.

Mrs. Shcharansky, who has many relatives in Canada, met yesterday with several government officials, including Justice Minister Otto Lang and Multiculturalism Minister Norman Calik and Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The Prime Minister assured her that Canada has renewed its offer to the Soviet Union to grant immigrant status to Shcharansky if he is released and permitted to emigrate to Canada.

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