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First Jew Sentenced to Death by Palestine Army Court; Policeman Accused of Killing Child

February 6, 1938
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An army court today sentenced Ezekiel Altman, 23-year-old Jewish special policeman, to death for firing upon an Arab truck on the Jerusalem-Jaffa road last Dec. 27 and killing an Arab boy. The sentence is subject to confirmation by Major General A. P. Wavell, commander-in-chief of British military forces in Palestine, from whose decision there is no appeal.

Altman is the first Jew to receive the death sentence from a military tribunal under the emergency regulations. Two others, convicted of possessing weapons, last month were sentenced to five-year terms, which later were reduced by Gen. Wavell to three and six months, respectively.

Altman, during the three-day trial, protested his innocence. Testifying yesterday as to his movements on the afternoon of Dec. 27, he declared he had heard suspicious noises near his post at a quarry and had started to investigate when he was fired upon from two sides by an estimated six Arab snipers. Altman said he retreated, firing a total of 15 shots, and hid among the rocks awaiting aid but proceeded to Nachlat Itzhak when it did not come. While the prosecution testimony said the shots that killed the Arab boy came from the north, Altman’s testimony indicated he had spent the entire time on the south side of the road.

Prosecution witnesses testified earlier that 17 shots had been fired and that they had caused the death of the Arab boy. A corporal said he had discovered on investigation several empty cartridges, tracks of a single person and also the coat of the accused, who was absent from his station for three hours. He testified that an empty cartridge similar to Altman’s was found at the scene of the shooting.

A Jewish special policeman was severely wounded at Haifa last night by Arab assailants who stole his rifle. Three Revisionists and a member of the labor Zionist Hashomer Hatzair (the Young Guards) were released yesterday from the concentration camp at Acre, where they had been held under preventive arrest. Six others are expected to be released today.

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