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July 20, 1977 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-07-20

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MODERN MARTYDROM:
VA nurses 'cause celebre' of '77

By KEITh 1;. RICHBURG
Filipina, Narciso and Leonora
Perez may well become the
Sacco and Venzetti of this
decade, or the Bruno Haupt-
manns of the 1970's, a modern-
day Julius and Ethel Rosen-
berg.
Sacco and Venzetti we all
hopefully recall (hopefully, at
the risk of history repeating
itself) as the early-century
aliens charged with anarchy,
whose case became a cause
celebre for later civil libertari-
ans.
Bruno Hauptmann was a Ger-
man immigrant charged with
the kidnapping and murder of
the Lindbergh baby. Hauptmann.
maintained his inocense, but
the mood of the country cried
for vengeance, up until his exe-
cution.
The Rosenbergs, more recent-
ly though still only history to
most of us, were the husband
and wife executed as traitors
selling secrets to the Russians.
Their children are still fighting
to clear their names.
THESE WEREN'T in some
far-away country, where individ-
uals are denied even the most
fundamental of civil liberties.

These cases were not the re-
sult of a system wllich proclaims
a suspect innocent until proven
guilty. Sacco and Venzetti, Bru-
no Hauptmann, and the Rosen-
bergs all received trials by "a
fair and impartial jury of their
peers." All were convicted in
accordance with the American
Judicial Process.
Filipina Narciso and Leonora
Perez have indeed become the
"cause celebre" of our time, the
only difference being that it is
our time, and not a decade or
half-a-century later when we
are beginning to scrutinize the
foibles of the system which con-
victed them.
Narciso and Perez were charg-
ed and convicted with poison-
ing some of their patients at
the Ann Arbor Veterans Admin-
istration (VA) hospital during
the summer of 1975. The govern-
ment spent over a million dol-
lars, ten months investigation,
and 200 FBI agents just to build
a case against the wiomen.
The conviction, the climax of
a record-breaking 94-hour jury
deliberation over fifteen days,
was supposed to lay the mystery
of the VA breathing failures to
rest once and for all.
AND THE CONVICTION has

laid the issue to rest, although
the untimely death, immediately
sent back suspicion and uncer-
tainty to haunt us from its shal-
low grave.
Who, for instance, was the
mysterious man in the green
hospital scrub suit? The "man
in green" surfaced over and
over during trial testimony as
lurking the corridors of the VA
hospital at the time of some
of the unexplained- breathing
failures, now known to have
been poiSonings.
And what of the former VA
nursing supervisor, Betty Ja-
kim, who committed suicide last
February only after exonnerat-
ing Narciso and Perez; and con-
fessing to the VA murders in
a suicide note.
Whether her words amounted
to a confession or the babbling
of a mental patient on the brink
of disaster is a matter for con-
jecture now, because the trial
is over, the issue closed,
ALSO CLOSED is the issue
of the VA hospital itself. Was
security during the summer of
the attacks so lax anyone could
have been wandering the halls,
armed with Pavulon, in search
of helpless victims?
And what was the stake of

the hopsital administration in
the prosecution of Narciso and
Perez? VA Chief-of-Staff, Dr.
S. Martin Lindenauer allegedly
bribed one witness, Bonnie
Bates Weston, in return for that
witness "searching her heart"
and recalling certain facts. An-
other witness, a VA nurse, said
Lindenauer, on a European sab-
batical at the time of the breath-
ing failures, told the investiga-
ting agents not to harrass his
doctors, but to concentrate their
efforts on the nursing staff.
It's all a matter of record.
But the charges will never be
investigated now, because with
the jury's verdict, the case was
closed - signed, sealed and, de-
livered.
BUT THERE'S -,ONE differ-
ence between the case of Nar-
ciso and Perez, and that of Sac-
co and Venzetti, Bruno Haupt-
marn, or even the Rosenbergs:
the diffurence is, with Narciso
and Perez; there is still time.
There is still time for an in-
vestigation into what really hap-
pened at the Ann Arbor VA hos-
pital during the summer of 1975.
This investigation must be con-
ducted by an independant agent,
not the U.S. attorneys office
which prosecuted the two wom-

en.
There is still time for the
United States Veterans Admin-
istration to name a Watergate-
style .,special prosecutor to
launch a complete investigation
into the Ann Arbor VA hospital.
And if the U.S.V.A. doesn't take
the initiative, a Congressional
probe isn't a far-fetched idea.
SIMPLE ARITHMATIC shows
that even if the nurses are guil-
ty, that leaves 1, murders and
some 47 poisonings unaccounted
for. Certainly that warrants a
Congressional probe,''especially
when international implications
of convicting two Philipine citi-
zens despite strong evidence of
a frame-up are added.
Furthermare, a full-scale probe
is needed of the FBI- itself dur-
ing its handling of the case.
The convictions laid to rest the
repeated charges of FBI har-
rassment.
At any rate, let's not wait
until Filipina Narciso and Leo-
nora Perez are -forgotten. Let's
rot wait until the questions are
buried and the evidence lost,
all which have plagued a re-
opening of the John F. Kennedy
assassination case. We still have
time to act now, so let's move
while its fresh in our minds.

The Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Wednesday, July 20, 1977
News Phone: 764-0552
If Regents had to pay,
would they hike tuiton?
IN AN ANNOUNCEMENT bearing no surprises, the Re-
gents approved yet another tuition increase last week.
The annual increase is getting to be as routine as final
exams, as certain as death and taxes.
Regents and spectators accepted the decision with
a "business as usual, what's new?" attitude, not ques-
tioning the rate hike.
The tuition increase - projected at eight to ten
per cent last April - was levied despite state appro-
priations for the university which were $1 million more
than expected.
Rather than pass the gift horse onto the students,
administrators hoard the money, saying they want to
balance the budget. Former tice President for Academic
Affairs Frank Rhodes said the coming year will be a
difficult one, fiscally; one which would entail imple-
mentation of an enforced savings program.
THE ENFORCED SAVINGS program simply means the
university would try to crack down and keep depart-,
ments within their proposed budgets. The only real pro-
jection for the program is that departments might sub-
mit larger budgets, claiming they will use more money
than ever.
The administration says nothing about cutting back
its own over-inflated salaries, even "for the good of the
university."
Once again, with unfailing shortsightedness, univer-
sity administrators and the Regents let the students
down. If they really want to balance the budget with-
out these annual tuition increases, perhaps they should
ask the Athletic Department to share the football reve-
nues.

WELL, AT LMAT WE
$Ol TANAt' t PIsM
kl~r Vft$ .
SAY- CONVI0
C4H
5.Y

I

Letters to The Daly

protection
To The Daily: To The Daily:
In view of both the long his-
tory of violence against Ann 1 find it dif
Arbor women, and the recent my shack and
intensification of r a p e s, at- conviction of
tempted, kidnappings and as- and Perez in
saults, it is high time the'Phy- case. I cannot
sical Education Department in- any jury ofr
stituted self-defense classes in could conclude
that portion of its curriculum cution had p
open to all students. It can hard- based on thee
ly be disputed that such classes stand to have
would provide the same learning
experiences and physical exer- .Though a st
cise as tennis or gymnastics a moment acc
currently do. - blatherings of
-Vicki Patraka see the convi
Women's Program suts of a plo
Coordinator nurses becaus

guilty? Pings or because they. are wo-
men. However, it does appear
that a gross miscarriage of jus-
tice has occurred.

ificult to express
I disbelief at the
Nurses Narciso
the VA Hospital
comprehend how
reasonable people
e that the prose-
rovea their guilt
evidence I under-
been presented.
udent, I don't for
apt the hysterical
those who would
ctions as the re-
t directed at the
se theyare- Fili-

There is one other possible
explanation; that, somehow, the
evidence which convinced the
jury was not reported in the
media, or that its significance
wa soverlooked. I realize that
the chances of this having hap-
pened are not great; however,
I urge you . to search back
through your files on the case
to see if there isn't something
there which might agrve to
clarify the reasoning of the jury,
and to re-solidify our faithin
the America4 system of justice.
-Michai P. McDonald

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