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>Israel Faxx
>JN Sept. 16, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 170

Up to 200,000 Unclaimed Swiss Accounts May Exist

Two years after Swiss banks said they had fewer than 800 unclaimed Holocaust-era accounts, they are now poised to reveal that up to 200,000 accounts may have been found, sources said. Banking authorities were expected to announce soon that 100,000 to 200,000 unclaimed World War 2 accounts belonging to Swiss citizens were still in their banks.

Will Swiss Guard be Charged?

By Lisa Schlein (VOA-Geneva)

A Swiss prosecutor says he hopes to decide next month if he will press criminal charges against a former security guard for allegedly breaking Switzerland's bank secrecy law. The guard fled to the United States after saying he received death threats because he blocked the bank from destroying Holocaust-era records.

The Zurich district prosecutor hinted he might drop criminal charges against the former guard, Christoph Meilli. He said the documents Meilli rescued from the bank's shredder might not have violated bank secrecy laws because they were more than 50 years old.

The prosecutor's announcement was made after a group of 700 academics and lawyers demanded Switzerland end its investigation of the former security guard. The head of a group called Democratic Swiss Jurists, Bruno Kauffman, says Swiss authorities are pursuing the investigation against Meilli to deter other potential whistleblowers.

"We think that the Swiss authorities would, with the case of Meilli, make other people afraid to tell publicly of problems with the financial place in Switzerland after the Second World War."

Kauffman says his organization will offer free legal advice to people who are afraid to come forward with information they might have about Switzerland's war-time dealings with the Nazis.

Meilli fled to the United States with his wife and two children in April, saying he was afraid his life was in danger. Under a special procedure, Congress granted him a residency permit. Meilli has been treated as a hero by Jewish groups and Congress for defying the Swiss banking establishment.

The DSJ says Meilli is innocent of any wrongdoing. They say it was the Union Bank of Switzerland which committed an illegal act by destroying wartime documents.
The Zurich prosecutor says he is investigating whether the bank violated a federal decree which prohibits destruction of records left by Holocaust victims. The bank, which called the shredding a regrettable mistake, has not pressed charges against the former security guard.

Egypt Advises Against U.S.-Turkish-Israeli Naval Maneuvers

By Amberin Zaman (VOA-Ankara)

Turkey's president, Suleyman Demirel, travels Tuesday to Egypt, where he is expected to try to calm mounting Arab concerns about Turkey's military relations with Israel.

Officials close to the talks say Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will try to persuade Demirel to call off planned naval maneuvers by Turkey, Israel and the United States that are scheduled off the Israeli coast in November.

The exercises are part of expanding military ties between Turkey and Israel. Last year, the two countries signed a military cooperation agreement that allows Israeli air force pilots to train over Turkish territory.

Turkey's Arab neighbors led by Syria have described the agreement as a threat to peace and security in the Middle East. But Turkey says the deal does not constitute a threat to its regional neighbors. In fact, Demirel is widely expected to renew an invitation to Egypt to join the exercises. But Mubarak is expected to decline.

In private, some Turkish officials describe closer ties with Israel as Turkey's best foreign policy move since Turkey joined Nato in the 1950s. Ankara has long complained that despite close historical and religious ties with the Arab world, Turkey has rarely received support from Arab leaders on important diplomatic issues.

Analysts say Israel is campaigning for Turkey's inclusion in the European Union. They say it is transferring military and other technology to Turkey. And they say it also has helped move the powerful Jewish lobby in the United States to support Turkey.

IDF Base to Become International Airport

By IINS News Service

As part of the budgetary agreements between the Finance and Defense Ministry, the Air Force Base Chatzor will be sold, the monies given to the Defense Ministry, and the land developed to become Israel's new international airport.

The agreement to turn over proceeds from sales of IDF-owned properties was struck between the two ministries, to compensate the Defense Ministry for a large budget cut accepted in the 1998 state budget.

Senior Air Force officials stated the idea was raised in the past but the plan to convert the base into a civilian commercial international airport was scrapped for technical reasons.

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