Newsletter : 7fax0415.txt
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>JN April 15, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 67
Ross Heads for the Middle East
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is sending negotiator
Dennis Ross tonight to the Middle East to see Palestinian leader
Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an
effort to get Middle East peace talks back on track. As the next
step in the American effort to revive peace talks, Albright says
Ross will continue in the Middle East the talks begun here last
week with the Israelis and Palestinians.
Insurance Companies Pressured to Settle Holocaust Claims
By Max Ruston (VOA-New York)
A law firm in New York is threatening to step up pressure on
several of Europe's largest insurance companies to settle
unresolved claims from victims of the Holocaust. The firm believes
several of the insurance companies colluded with Nazi authorities
to profit from World War 2 atrocities.
New York lawyer Ed Fagan says some of Europe's largest insurance
companies are trying to avoid facing up to their past mistakes --
particularly those allegedly committed during the World War 2
period. Fagan represents about 70 Holocaust survivors and their
relatives with unresolved claims against these insurance companies,
totaling about $7 billion.
At a news conference, Fagan criticized the insurance companies for
rejecting the claims with what he described as a variety of
excuses. "Any company that wants to continue to hide behind these
defenses will be dealt with very severely, because we will push
this case both here and in Europe."
The lawsuit filed two weeks ago against seven companies, based in
Austria, Germany, Italy and other countries, after most of the
plaintiffs' requests for assistance were rejected. One of the
companies named in the suit, Allianz Lebenversicherung of Germany,
has promised a full investigation of the charges. Most of the
others have remained silent.
The suit follows a similar case last year, also involving Fagan,
aimed at forcing Swiss banks to turn over assets of secret accounts
claimed by Holocaust victims and their relatives. Fagan says the
case against European insurance companies is not related to the
earlier legal action. And he says it is not a case involving only
"For those of you that happen to believe this is just a Jewish
question, I am here to tell you this is not a Jewish issue, this is
a global issue that affects all people and all races and everyone
who was discriminated against by the Nazis."
Several of the companies charges in the legal action say they
already paid the amounts due on the insurance policies involved
in the claims. Others say they do not have any records of policies
belonging to the claimants or their relatives.
Sticks, Stones and Fire Bombs Punctuate Hebron
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Small-scale clashes continued in Hebron Monday between Palestinian
demonstrators and Israeli troops. This comes as efforts continue
to arrange a meeting between the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat,
and the Israeli foreign minister, David Levy.
The throwing of stones and fire bombs by Palestinian youths in
Hebron has become a daily ritual during the last 10 days. But
other parts of the West Bank have been relatively quiet, and
Israel's decision to allow thousands of Palestinians to return to
work in Israel has been implemented smoothly.
Israeli and Palestinian security forces are cooperating more than
they were when the current crisis began a month ago, but peace
talks remain suspended. The Palestinians say they can not
resume implementation of the interim agreement, or begin talks on
a final peace settlement until Israel stops building in east
Jerusalem and in West Bank settlements. Israel says it will not
Priebke Stands Trial for a Second Time
By Peggy Polk (VOA-Rome)
Former Nazi SS Capt. Erich Priebke has gone on trial in Rome for
the second time for his role in a World War 2 massacre. This time
he will be tried along with another ex-officer implicated in the
At the opening session, the military court agreed to a prosecution
request to try former SS Maj. Karl Hass, along with Priebke. Both
are accused of participating in the 1944 massacre of 335 men and
boys in the Ardeatine Caves near the Catacombs in reprisal for a
partisan attack that left 33 German troops dead on a Rome street
the previous day.
Priebke, 83, and Hass, 84, contend they would have been executed
themselves if they had refused to take part in the massacre.
In his first trial last August, a military court found Priebke
guilty of murder, but it cleared him of the aggravating
circumstances of premeditation and cruelty needed to override a
30-year statute of limitations.
Amidst an uproar over Priebke's release, Italian authorities
re-arrested him, and an appeals court ordered a new trial. Priebke
was extradited to Italy from Argentina, where he had been found
living under his own name. Hass returned to Italy from Switzerland
as a prosecution witness and was charged after admitting his role
in the killings.
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