World Report

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ROME (JTA) — A military appeals court has rejected a request to dismiss two judges in the war crimes trial of former SS Capt. Erich Priebke, despite accusations they were biased in Priebke's favor.

The ruling Monday cleared the way for the trial's resumption this week.

Priebke, 82, is on trial for his role in the 1944 massacre of 335 men and boys, some 75 of whom were Jews, at the Ardeatine Caves outside Rome. He has already admitted to drawing up a list of victims, checking it off at the caves and personally shooting two people.

The trial was suspended last month after prosecutors accused Judges Agostino Quistelli and Bruno Rocchi of impartiality and demanded the dismissal of the three-judge panel.

Two military officers testified before the appeals court that they had heard Quistelli say in a conversation that he believed Priebke should be absolved.

The court said the judge could have abstained from the case because of his opinion.

It added, however, that Quistelli should not be removed from the case because he expressed his opinion as a private citizen, before the trial opened and before he examined the charges against Priebke.

Mad-cow scare cuts kosher sales

LONDON (JTA) — The mad-cow scare has plunged the kosher trade into crisis, with job cuts looming as a result of a drastic fall in beef eating.

The London Board for Shechitah, the city's main supplier of kosher meat, says it has been losing several thousands of dollars a week since April.

"We're sustaining a financial hemorrhage which has to be stopped," said Charles Oster, board president.

In March, the British government announced a possible link between mad-cow disease and the incidence of the fatal Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease in young people.

A 45 percent drop in sales indicates that efforts to persuade the public that kosher beef is safe have failed.

The board is discussing plans to lay off some employees. It also wants to withdraw the annual grants it provides for services rendered by rabbis.

Scholars in Hungary eye Jewish program

BUDAPEST (JTA) — More than 30 leading scholars from around the world met recently in Budapest to discuss the creation of a Jewish studies program at the Budapest-based Central European University.

Representatives from Europe, North America and Israel took part in the June 13 and 14 brainstorming session that examined the place of Jewish studies and Jewish memory in the intellectual world of post-communist Central Europe.

The conference occurred as Jewish studies programs are forming at a number of institutes of higher learning in Central and Eastern European countries.

"It is a positive, but strange phenomenon, given the continuous decline of the diaspora, particularly in Europe," Sara Japhet of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said in an interview.

The CEU, set up in 1990, promotes educational development and policy-making in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the former Soviet Union.

Deported Nazi denies any guilt

VILNIUS, Lithuania (JTA) — Aleksandras Lileikis, the former head of the Nazi-sponsored Lithuanian security police who was recently deported to Lithuania, says he returned to Lithuania to seek justice.

"If I felt guilty, I wouldn't have returned to Lithuania," Lileikis reportedly told journalists in his first public statement.

Lileikis has not been charged in Lithuania, though he is under investigation.

Lileikis, who is in his late 80s, was denaturalized last month by a U.S. federal court in Boston. He arrived June 18 in Vilnius, the city in which he had served during World War II.

On May 24, he was stripped of his citizenship after the court found that his activities as head of the Lithuanian security police, known as the Saugumas, "clearly constitute" personal participation in persecution.

From August 1941 to July 1944, he headed the Saugumas, whose officers arrested Jews who attempted to escape from the ghetto in Vilnius.

Some 55,000 of Vilnius' 60,000 Jews perished during the war.