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Acquittal of Nazi General in Vienna Draws Strong Criticism

December 23, 1965
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The acquittal yesterday in Vienna of Robert Jan Verbelen, a former SS general condemned to death in absentia in Belgium in 1947 for war crimes in that country, evoked sharp criticism today in Belgium. Verbelen was found innocent by the Vienna court of charges of participating in terrorist acts and mass murders in occupieded Belgium.

Justice Minister Pierre Wigny told the Belgian Broadcasting Service in an interview that he was indignant over the acquittal. He recalled Verbelen’s 1947 death sentence and said that he was still considered here as under that sentence and subject to its implementation if he ever returned to Belgium.

The Union of International Resistance and Deportees issued a statement from its headquarters here expressing its indignation and charging that the Nazi ideology had left “dep traces” in Austria. The Union said this had been shown previously in other “scandalous sentences” in previous Nazi war crimes trials. The Union added that the Verbelen verdict was “one more proof” of the “active and extended solidarity” still existing between former Nazi criminals and their friends.

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