From Our Staff Correspondent and A.A.P.
LONDON, Sept. 24.-The Bulgarian Govern- ment's execution of Nikola Petkov, leader of the
main Opposition party, has shocked the western
An official United States statement on the execution says that it is part of the Communist-dominated Bulgarian
Government's march toward totalitarianism.
Britain's Foreign Secretary, Mr. Bevin, is now discussing what action Britain can take to show her
revulsion at the execution.
REICHSTAG FIRE RECALLED
Petkov, leader of the Agrarian National Union, a peasant party, was condemned to death last month "for having tried to over- throw the legal authority and re- store Fascism by conspiring with army organisations."
After his trial, .Britain and America officially asked that the sentence be reviewed. The Rus- sian chairman of the Control Council in Bulgaria rejected the requests. Petkov was hanged in Sofia at midnight on Monday.
The' United States Government statement on the execution says:
"In the court of world opinion, the Bulgarian Government . has shown itself wanting with respect to the elementary principles of justice and the rights of man..
"Petkov's trial on charges of plot- ting against the Government was a travesty of justice. The timing and conduct of the trial make it abundantly clear that the trial con- stituted but one of a series of measures undertaken by the Com- munist-dominated Fatherland Front Government to move from the Bul- garian scene all save a purely nomi- nal opposition and lo consolidate, in spite of its professions to the contrary, a totalitarian form of
"The trial of Petkov recalls to
memory another trial which occurred in Leipzig 14 years ago."
(This refers to the Reichstag fire trial, at which the Bulgarian Com- munist Georgi Dimitrov was the principal figure in the dock. Tho chief Nazi protagonist was Goering. Dimitrov is now Premier of Bulgaria,]
"In that earlier trial, a Bulgarian defendant evoked world-wide admiration for his courageous de- fiance of the Nazi bully who par- ticipated in his prosecution. To-day, that defendant has assumed another role, and it is now the courage of another Bulgarian whose steadfast opposition to the forces of oppress- ion has evoked world-wide admira- tion.
Mr. Clement Davies (Liberal), Lord Vansittart (Conservative), and Mr. A. R. Blackburn (Labour) yes-, terday issued a statement in London that "the judicial murder of Petkov shows a clear resemblance in general between Communist dictators like Dimitrov and Fascist dictators like Hitler."
"Let us learn the lesson that there must be no appeasement of Com- munism," says the statement. "We must never again invite aggression by being weak. We must be reso- lute in our defence of freedom and the rule of law."
"TREATY ALREADY VIOLATED"
"The Times," London, com- ments that with the ink scarcely dry on the peace treaty ratifica- tion, Bulgaria has violated the second article of the treaty by murdering Petkov. '
This article reads: "Bulgaria shall take all measures necessary to secure to all persons under Bulgarian jurisdiction the enjoy- ment ^of human rights and of fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression, of the Press and publication, of religious worship, and of political opinion and public meeting."
"MORE ARE SCHEDULED"
The "New York Times" com- ments: "When a nation drapes itself in the robes of justice to murder its foremost patriot it not only com- mits a shameful crime, it makes a mistake. In the free world out- side it breeds horror and revulsion.
Among its own people it' sows the seeds of resentment which some day will yield a crop of bloodshed to drench the savage band that rules I the land to-day.
"Petkov was convicted long be- fore he was tried. Several more of these murders are scheduled in Sofia. They will surely be com-
"Bulgana has moved faster1 into the Russian darkness than Hungary, a more politically conscious and ,resistant country, but look for the
next senes of purge murders to start there "
Sofia Radio, commenting on the execution last night, quoted a reso- lution passed by the central com- mittee of Bulgarian trade unions "To a dog a dog's death "
FIGHT AGAINST NAZIS
[Petkov spent several years beforo the war in Bulgarian prisons and concentration camps because he was opposed lo Bulgaria's increasingly pro-Nazi policy
In 1944 he escaped from a Nazi internment camp and with four others founded the Fatherland Front resistance movement pledged to fight the Germans The Fatherland Front supported the Russian armies, and welcomed the Bulgarian Com- munist leader, Georai Dimitrov, when he returned after long exile spent mostly m Russia
But the Communists quicklv took over the Fatherland Front, and Pet- kov, who had been deputy Prime Minister, went over lo the Opposi- tion with his Peasant Party mem- bers In last year's elections, in spite of strong Communist pressure, the Peasant Party won nearly a
third of the votes
In June of this year the Com- munist-dominated police arrested Petkov and 23 other leading mem- bers of the Opposition Petkov was tried by three Judges-all members of the Communist Party-and found
guilty of supporting a secret mill- - tary organisation through which he and army officers had, it was alleged, hoped to seize power ]