World Report

ROME (JTA) — Jews held a silent demonstration outside the Polish embassy here this week to protest a march by skinheads at Auschwitz.

"The demonstration took place in absolute silence," Riccardo Pacifici, a member of the council of the Rome Jewish community, said.

Demonstrators carried banners reading "No to Revisionism," "We Will Not Forget," and "Polish Church, Where Are You?"

They were protesting against a march Sunday at Auschwitz by some 100 extreme nationalists, who rallied to protest a ban on building a mini-mall across the street from the former death camp.

Construction was halted late last month in the wake of criticism from Jewish leaders and the Polish government over the plan to sell food and other services to visitors to Auschwitz.

Pacifici said he also was concerned that the Polish church and the Vatican did not issue open denunciations of the protest by skinheads, who were allowed to go inside Auschwitz.

May 8 trial date set for SS Capt. Priebke

ROME (JTA) — Former SS Capt. Erich Priebke will go on trial for his role in Italy's worst Nazi massacre May 8 — the 51st anniversary of the end of World War II.

A Rome military judge has indicted Priebke for "multiple homicide aggravated by cruelty" stemming from his involvement in the March 24, 1944 mass execution of civilians — including 75 Jews — in the Ardeatine Caves south of Rome.

The 82-year-old Priebke, who was extradited to Italy last November from Argentina, showed no emotion as Judge Giuseppe Mazzi read the indictment April 4.

Priebke, who during the Nazi occupation of Rome was an aide to SS commandant Herbert Kappler, escaped from a POW camp after the war and fled to Argentina, where he lived peacefully until he was discovered there by an ABC News team in 1994.

FAA cites Athens airport for security

ATHENS (JTA) — The World Jewish Congress has sent a message to Jewish communities worldwide alerting them that Athens' Hellenikon Airport was cited by the Federal Aviation Administration for not meeting international security standards.

"The FAA had advised Greek officials months ago that there were serious security problems at the Athens airport," said WJC's New York-based executive director Elan Steinberg.

After issuing the citation, the FAA formally told airlines that an advisory alerting passengers to the security problems must be posted on all tickets for travel to the Athens airport, Steinberg said.

Israel says UNESCO forum was hijacked

PARIS (JTA) — Israel has complained to UNESCO about a symposium on Jerusalem held under its auspices that was organized by pro-Palestinian groups.

The March conference was organized by the Forum for Citizens of the Mediterranean, a group backed by pro-Palestinian French groups.

In its final declaration, the conference claimed that Israel held too much sway over Jerusalem's fate.

"Throughout this conference, we have tried to change the balance of power [over Jerusalem], by recognizing the legitimacy of the weak in the face of the policy of a fait accompli," the declaration stated.

A source at the Israeli Embassy here said the conference was biased, and that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization had been misled into backing the session.

"What we object to is that there was an attempt to transfer UNESCO to the political arena, which is contrary to its mission,"the source said.

French court mulls trial for alleged Nazi

PARIS (JTA) — A French court has opened hearings to decide whether a former cabinet minister should be tried for his role in deporting 1,690 Jews, 223 of them children, to Nazi concentration camps between 1942 and 1944.

Maurice Papon, 85, is accused of complicity in crimes against humanity, kidnapping, arbitrary arrests and persecution. He was secretary-general of the Bordeaux region's local government during Germany's wartime occupation of France. His wartime activities only became known to the public in 1981, after he served as Paris police chief, from 1958 to 1967, and later as budget minister.

French public prosecutor Henri Desclaux said Papon participated in a large number of arrests and sent people to transit camps.

Papon said he was the victim of a plot by the Anti-Defamation League to make France share responsibility with Germany for the Holocaust. He accused Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld, one of several lawyers representing the 36 plaintiffs in the case, of being on the ADL's payroll.

Papon said the main evidence in the case — documents from the period that bear his signature detailing the organization of the arrests and deportation — were not orders but simply reports.

The court is expected to make a decision in about two months.