Hezbollah member wanted by US released in Germany

20th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 December 2005, BEIRUT - Hezbollah member Mohammed Ali Hamadi has returned to Lebanon after being secretly released in Germany, where he was serving a life sentence for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner and killing of a US navy diver, Hezbollah and Lebanese security sources said Tuesday.

20 December 2005

BEIRUT - Hezbollah member Mohammed Ali Hamadi has returned to Lebanon after being secretly released in Germany, where he was serving a life sentence for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner and killing of a US navy diver, Hezbollah and Lebanese security sources said Tuesday.

Hamadi returned a few days ago, a Hezbollah source told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in Beirut. A Lebanese security source confirmed that Hamadi entered Beirut four days ago aboard a commercial flight from Germany.

The sources did not indicate whether Hamadi stayed in Beirut after his return. He had been arrested on 13 January 1987 at Frankfurt airport after customs officials found liquid explosives in his luggage.

He was sentenced in 1989 for possession of explosives, hijacking a U.S. commercial passenger airliner in Athens to Beirut - TWA flight 847 - on 14 June 1985, beating and holding passengers aboard that flight, and murdering Robert Dean Stethem, a US Navy diver, on the same flight.

At his trial he confessed to having helped stage the 17-day hijacking to demand the release of 700 Lebanese detainees held by Israel, but he denied killing 23-year-old Stethem.

US authorities had requested his extradition so he could stand trial in the United States, but the government of Germany, which has no death penalty, insisted on prosecuting him in Germany.

Hamadi has two brothers, also with Hezbollah - Abdul Hadi and Abbas Ali. Abdul Hadi was security chief of Hezbollah when his brother was arrested in Germany.

Abbas Ali was also sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment in Germany for plotting the kidnapping of two Germans in the 1980s in Beirut in the hope of forcing the release of his brother. Abbas Ali was released after he served his term.

Commentators have speculated that Hamadi's release may be connected to the freeing Sunday of German hostage Susanne Osthoff in Iraq. German authorities had already tried to use Hamadi as a bargaining chip in the late 1980s to secure the release of German hostages in Lebanon.

However the German Foreign Ministry denies any link between the releases of Hamadi and Osthoff. "There is no connection between these two cases," Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jäger said in remarks to Reuters.

Copyright DPA with Expatica

Subject: German news

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