Prosecutors meet with family of missing pilot
17 October 2007, KARLSRUHE (AFP) - German officials met with relatives of a missing Israeli airman Tuesday but indicated there would be no deal involving the planned release of a convicted Iranian murderer held in Germany.
17 October 2007
KARLSRUHE (AFP) - German officials met with relatives of a missing Israeli airman Tuesday but indicated there would be no deal involving the planned release of a convicted Iranian murderer held in Germany.
The meeting between the chief federal prosecutor and the family of Ron Arad, an Israeli air force navigator, came after the announcement last week that an Iranian jailed for life in Germany for murdering four Kurdish dissidents in 1992 would be released early.
The Iranian, Kazem Darabi, could be freed as early as December. He is then to be deported to Iran.
Tehran has tried for years to secure the liberation of Darabi, whom Berlin branded an Iranian secret agent.
His name figured in several rounds of talks on potential prisoner swaps including German-brokered negotiations between Israel and Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah.
In those discussions, Berlin reportedly offered to free Darabi in exchange for information on Arad, who has been missing for more than 20 years after ejecting from a fighter jet over Lebanon. But a deal never came about.
Frank Wallenta of the federal prosecutor's office in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe said Darabi and a Lebanese accomplice, Abbas Rhayel, had served the minimum 15 years in prison and were thus eligible for release because they could be deported.
"Other aspects have no place legally in such decisions, which are exclusively based on the legal relationship between the Federal Republic of Germany and the convicted person," Wallenta said in a statement.
"This was also expressed in a conversation today between members of the Arad family and the chief federal prosecutor."
He could not be reached for comment on what the Arad family said during the meeting.
But German news weekly Der Spiegel reported Monday that Arad's daughter wanted to stop Darabi's release until Iran provides information on her father's whereabouts.
The German government on Friday also dismissed speculation there was any deal on Arad with Tehran to release Darabi.
However on Monday, Israel handed over the bodies of two Hezbollah militants and a prisoner in exchange for the remains of a drowned Israeli civilian, who was washed up on the Lebanese coast, and information on a missing airman.
An Israeli official told AFP the information pertained to Arad.
Subject: German news