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Court Upholds Vanunu Confession, Says He Must Be Tried in Israel

Former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, on trial for treason, lost two important appeals in Jerusalem district court Sunday.

The court rejected his claim that he cannot be tried in Israel because he was brought here by illegal means. It also upheld his confession, which Vanunu’s lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, said was invalid because it was obtained under duress.

Vanunu, 33, is charged with having given the Sunday Times of London data on Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons capabilities and photographs of the nuclear facility at Dimona in the Negev where he was once employed.

Vanunu disappeared from his London hotel on Sept. 30, 1986. He claims that a day later he was seized by Israeli agents in Rome and taken to Israel against his will. The Israeli authorities initially denied knowledge of his whereabouts, but admitted several weeks later that he was in their custody, though they insisted he came to Israel voluntarily.

According to his lawyer, Vanunu confessed to the charges shortly after his imprisonment here while in a confused state of mind, unable to contact a lawyer or his family. But the court found otherwise.

It was the second setback for Vanunu. The court ruled a week ago that government officials cannot be subpoenaed to testify for the defense and that the defense must present its case in closed court. The trial has been conducted in closed court since it began last August. It was suspended last month because of the illness of one of the three presiding judges. It is scheduled to resume Dec. 1.

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