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Eichmann’s Lawyer Files Appeal for Clemency; Asks for Stay of Execution

May 31, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An appeal to President Ben-Zvi for clemency and a stay of execution of the death sentence imposed on Adolf Eichmann was filed here today by Dr. Robert Servatius, the former Gestapo colonel’s West German defense attorney.

The attorney’s action, taken in a four-page, hand-written letter to Israel’s President, came 24 hours after the Israel Supreme Court upheld the Eichmann judgment and verdict of death by hanging, issued last December 15 by a Jerusalem District Court.

In his appeal, Dr. Servatius set forth some points which he said he had been unable to spell out during the trial last summer in which Eichmann was convicted of having had a key role in the Nazi wartime slaughter of 6, 000, 000 European Jewish men, women and children.

The Cologne attorney also asked for a Presidential order to stay the execution, if his appeal for clemency were rejected. He said he was asking for such an order, to enable him to take “certain other steps” on behalf of his client. Neither the attorney nor the President’s Office would disclose the details of the letter. It was presumed, however, that Dr. Servatius planned to seek an order in a West German court to have Israel extradite Eichmann to Germany.


The next step, under Israel law, is for Minister of Justice Dov Joseph to submit an advisory opinion on the clemency appeal to President Ben-Zvi. The President is expected to make his decision within three days after receiving the Justice Minister’s opinion. Ministry circles indicated today that the entire matter will be dealt with in the speediest manner possible.

Meanwhile, it was learned, new regulations will be published in the next day or two, dealing with the disposition of Eichmann’s body, should the ex-Nazi be executed. Under the present procedure, the body of an executed person must be turned over to the next of kin. The new regulation is expected to give the prison authorities the right to dispose of the body at their discretion. It is pointed out here that, following the Nuremberg War Crimes trials, the bodies of the executed Nazi war criminals were cremated, so that their graves could not be turned into Nazi or neo-Nazi “shrines.”

The Cabinet met here yesterday in a special session, immediately after the Supreme Court had upheld the District Court’s verdict and death sentence against Eichmann. Attorney General Gideon Hausner, who headed the prosecution of Eichmann, reported to the Cabinet which, presumably, discussed measures for implementing the final verdict against the former Gestapo colonel.

The meeting was held, it was reported, because Justice Minister Joseph did not want to assume full, personal responsibility for the advisory opinion he must furnish to the President. Among the matters on the Cabinet’s agenda was the certainty that Eichmann’s attorney would appeal for Presidential clemency.

Should President Ben-Zvi reject the clemency appeal and the petition for staying the execution, the Justice Minister must notify the Commissioner of Prisons in writing that the death sentence is to be carried out. Then the Commissioner of Prisons would appoint an executioner.

In deciding yesterday to confirm both the judgment and the sentence of the Jerusalem District Court, the High Tribunal declared: “We know only too well how utterly inadequate this death sentence is, as compared to the millions of deaths in the most diverse ways he inflicted on his victims. Even as there is no word in human speech to designate deeds such as those of the appellant, so is there no punishment within human laws that would fit, in its gravity, the guilt of the appellant.

“But our knowledge that any treatment meted out would be inadequate–as would be any penalty or punishment inflicted on him–dare not move us to mitigate punishment. Indeed, there can be no sense in sentencing to death under the Law for Punishment of Nazis, him who killed a hundred people, while setting free or merely keeping under guard and in security, him who killed millions, ” the judgment asserted.

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