Peres Testifies in Vanunu Trial

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres took the stand in Jerusalem district court Wednesday as the final witness in the trial of alleged nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu.

The trial is being held behind closed doors and no part of Peres’ testimony was released. He was reported to have spent an hour on the witness stand and to have told the court that Vanunu had done great harm to the country’s security.

Vanunu’s attorney, Avigdor Feldman, told reporters later that he was severely restricted in his direct examination of the foreign minister, because several lines of questioning were banned for security reasons. He charged this was an obstruction of justice.

Premier Yitzhak Shamir had listed five areas related to the trial on which Peres could not be questioned by either the defense or prosecution. These areas were specified in order to avoid embarrassing Peres should he have to decline to answer questions or volunteer information that might endanger the security of the state.

PICKED BECAUSE OF EXPERTISE

The foreign minister was summoned as a witness by the defense, because of his long association with Israeli scientific and technological work in the defense field. Peres began his career in the defense establishment, later serving as defense minister and has always supported the inroduction and use of new technology.

Vanunu, a former technician at the Dimona nuclear facility, is accused of espionage and treason, because of information he gave the Sunday Times of London about Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons capability.

According to some reports, an American expert who testified for the defense Monday maintained that Vanunu’s revelations contained nothing that was not freely available in professional journals.

The trial, which began last year, is now in its final stages. The defense and prosecution are expected to deliver their summations next week.

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