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Henry Greener, a family friend who spoke on Australian TV two nights after the “Foreign Correspondent” investigation aired last week, said he was berated for going public.
He said of Zygier’s family, “They were horrified that I would go on air and say anything and disturbed I didn’t ask permission because it came across that I was representing the family.”
Greener, who hosts a weekly Jewish TV show, had warm recollections of Zygier.
“I’ve known Ben all his life, he was a gorgeous kid, a top guy. He was locked up but nobody knows why,” Greener said. “I want to see justice. He got justice behind closed doors; that’s not real justice.”
At the time of Zygier’s death, his father, Geoffrey, was the executive director of the Jewish community in Melbourne. The current president of the community, John Searle, said he could not speak about the case.
“I don’t want to comment because the family is going through turmoil, anguish and grief,” Searle said. “I think they should just be left alone.”
Friends in Melbourne said the last time they saw Zygier alive was in late 2009.
“He said he was leaving for a two-week visit to Israel and never came back, leaving his flat with everything in it,” a close friend said this week.
Zygier was buried in a Jewish cemetery in Melbourne on Dec. 22, 2010.
A friend of Zygier from another Zionist youth movement told JTA, “I’m very confident he would never be a traitor to Israel. He was a proud Zionist. There’s only one other person in my year who made aliyah out of dozens who said they would. He would never betray Israel.”
He said Zygier’s close friends are “very frustrated because if they would have had an inkling he was in jail, they all would have fought from him from here.”
Zygier’s mother, Louise, who worked to raise funds for the Jewish center at Monash University in Melbourne, is still devastated, according to this friend.
“Poor Louise, she hasn’t really recovered from Ben’s death two years ago. This has just revived it,” the friend said. “You won’t get anyone to talk publicly – we’ve all decided there’s no good purpose. Nobody knows the whole truth and it’s unlikely we ever will.”