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JUDGE DEFENDS SWISS HOLOCAUST DISTRIBUTION NEW YORK — The judge presiding over the $1.3 billion Swiss Holocaust settlement has rejected criticisms that the distribution formula he used favored survivors in the former Soviet Union over those in the United States. At issue is the formula for distributing $184.5 million to Jewish survivors around the world whose assets were looted by the Nazis. Objections lodged by the Holocaust Survivors Foundation-USA took issue with Eastern District of New York Chief Judge Edward Korman’s decision issued Tuesday to allocate to survivors in the former Soviet Union 75 percent of the $184.5 million distributed so far. Under the approved settlement formula, survivors living in the United States receive 4 percent of those funds, with the remainder going to survivors living in Israel, Europe and elsewhere. The apparent disparity was more than fully justified, Korman wrote, because of the extreme poverty of Soviet Union survivors compared to those in the United States, a discrepancy that has become even greater since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. In addition, he concluded in In Re: Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation, 96-4849, U.S. survivors had access to resources and benefits unavailable to those in the former Soviet Union. Soviet survivors by and large have not had access to prior compensation programs primarily because the post-war German government refused to deal with nations behind the Iron Curtain. Also, Korman noted, survivors make up a far smaller portion of the U.S. Jewish community than they did in the Soviet Union, which means the Soviet survivors have far fewer community resources to draw upon. In addition, he reasoned, the social services “safety net” in the United States is well developed, while it is practically non-existent in the former Soviet Union nations. — New York Law Journal NORIEGA DENIED PAROLE DESPITE SOME SUPPORT MIAMI — The U.S. Parole Commission has rejected without comment former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega’s bid for early parole from his 30-year prison sentence. “We’ll appeal it, for sure,” Miami lawyer Frank Rubino, Noriega’s longtime defense attorney, said Wednesday. But Tuesday’s decision means there’s virtually no chance that the former general, now 70, will be freed before his mandatory release date in 2007. To be released at that time, Noriega would have to continue his good behavior behind bars. Parole Commission chief of staff Tom Hutchinson in Chevy Chase, Md., said Department of Justice rules prohibited him from discussing how the decision to deny early parole was reached. Incarcerated in Miami since his capture by U.S. invasion forces in December 1989, Noriega previously has tried and failed to secure an early release. This time, though, he had the support of Senior U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler, the Miami judge who presided over the general’s narcotics trafficking trial. In April 1992, Hoeveler gave Noriega a 30-year term after a jury convicted him of racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering. But in a letter last month to U.S. Parole Commission Chairman Edward Reilly Jr., Hoeveler urged the release of Panama’s one-time “maximum leader” as a “good candidate for parole.” Hoeveler wrote on Feb. 20 that Noriega has “no thoughts” now of a return to politics. Last month, at Noriega’s parole hearing inside the Federal Correctional Institution in southern Miami-Dade County, the Justice Department took the opposite view. Prosecutor Richard Gregorie, a senior litigation counsel at the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami, told a parole examiner that Noriega’s return could destabilize Panama, which is scheduled to conduct a presidential election later this year. — Miami Daily Business Review

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