Jerusalem, May. 9 – The Government's decision to grant immunity from arrest for two ex-Nazis, wanted by the Adolf Eichmann defense as witnesses, squeezed through a Cabinet meeting narrowly by a vote of 6 to 5, it was revealed here today.
The two men, whom Attorney General Gideon Hausner, chief prosecutor in the Eichmann trial, promised immunity are Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, a former major in the Gestapo; and Walter Huppenkothen, formerly a functionary in the Gestapo Security offices. Dr. Robert Servatius, chief of the Eichmann defense, had requested they be given immunity so that they might come here to testify on Eichmann's behalf.
When the issue came before the Cabinet meeting, five of the Ministers voted against the immunity proposal "on both emotional and legal grounds." Although Mr. Hausner assured the Cabinet that there is no record of direct involvement by the two men in the program for the annihilation of European Jewry, the five insisted that, since Hoettl and Huppenkothen were officers in the Hitler Elite Guard (SS), they are "automatically" subject to prosecution in Israel under the same Israeli law which is the basis for Eichmann's indictment.
Those who voted against immunity for the ex-Nazis are Minister of Development Mordechai Bentov, Minister of Social Welfare Yosef Burg, Minister of Posts Binyamin Mintz, Minister of Agriculture Moshe Dayan and Minister of Police Behor Shitreet, The Herut Party has demanded a debate on the immunity issue in the Knesset (Parliament). The debate may come up in the House either tomorrow or next Monday.
Meanwhile, defense circles in the Eichmann trial denied reports that Dieter Wechtenbruch, Assistant to Dr. Servatius, who has paid a brief visit to Cyprus, went there to try to contact the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. The ex-Mufti lives now at Beirut, Lebanon. According to the prosecution, Eichmann had negotiated with the ex-Mufti about the Jewish annihilation program when the former Moslem religious leader was in Berlin.