German prisoner exchange for Israeli

26th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

26 January 2004 , TEL AVIV - The German government has agreed on Monday to the release of three prisoners - two Lebanese and an Iranian - serving life sentences, in exchange for the return of missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad or his body, reported Haaretz newspaper. The German pledge is part of a prisoner exchange deal reached by Israel and Hezbollah through German mediation. The three German prisoners were all involved in the murder of an Iranian dissident in a Berlin restaurant in 1992. However, Arad's

26 January 2004

TEL AVIV - The German government has agreed on Monday to the release of three prisoners - two Lebanese and an Iranian - serving life sentences, in exchange for the return of missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad or his body, reported Haaretz newspaper.

The German pledge is part of a prisoner exchange deal reached by Israel and Hezbollah through German mediation.

The three German prisoners were all involved in the murder of an Iranian dissident in a Berlin restaurant in 1992.

However, Arad's family was divided on Sunday, rejecting the release of murderers in return for the remains of Arad, should he no longer be alive.

Arad was kidnapped in 1986 by Lebanese militia after his airplane was shot down over Lebanon. Israel believes he ended up in Iran, which Hezbollah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah vehemently denied on Sunday.

The prisoner exchange between Israel and the Hezbollah is to take place on Thursday at a German airport.

On Monday evening Israel plans to publish on the Internet the list of the 435 prisoners to be released.

Under the deal, two Hezbollah leaders Sheikh Abdel Qarim Obeid, kidnapped by Israeli commandos in 1989, and Mustafa Dirani, abducted 10 years ago will be freed, as well as German citizen Steven Smyrek, convicted in 1999 of planning to carry out an attack on behalf of Hezbollah.

In exchange, Israeli businessman Elhanan Tennenbaum and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers who were kidnapped in October 2000 are to be returned.

The next stage of the agreement deals with the attempt to find Arad and bring him back to Israel. A joint German-Hezbollah committee will be set up to conduct the search for information, with indirect help from "other sources" - an apparent reference to Iran, reported Haaretz.

If solid information is obtained - meaning DNA samples to confirm his identity and proof of whether he is alive or dead - Israel will release Samir Kuntar, the only Lebanese prisoner who is not being freed this week, convicted of murdering three civilians in Israel in 1979.

On Sunday, Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said that Israel is closer than ever to the possibility of obtaining real information about the fate of Ron Arad.

Since his disappearance Ron Arad has become a national hero in Israel.

 

DPA
Subject: German news
 

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