US 'disappointed' Germany freed TWA hijacker

21st December 2005, Comments 0 comments

21 December 2005, WASHINGTON - The United States expressed disappointment Tuesday that Germany released a convicted TWA hijacker and murderer, and vowed to bring Mohammed Ali Hamadi to trial on U.S. soil.

21 December 2005

WASHINGTON - The United States expressed disappointment Tuesday that Germany released a convicted TWA hijacker and murderer, and vowed to bring Mohammed Ali Hamadi to trial on U.S. soil.

"We are disappointed by the fact that he was released before the end of his full sentence," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

"We believe that the facts merit his standing trial in the United States for the murder of Mr Stethem," McCormack said.

Hamadi had served nearly 19 years in Germany for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner to Lebanon and the murder of U.S. Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem. German officials said Tuesday he was released last week.

After being released, Hamadi quickly made his way to Lebanon. McCormack said the U.S. government would bring him to justice in the United States, although he conceded that would be complicated because of the lack of an extradition treaty with Lebanon.

Hamadi, a member of Hezbollah, was arrested at Frankfurt airport in January 1987 and U.S. authorities have sought to have him sent to the United States ever since.

The U.S. later clarified that there was no pending request with German authorities for Hamadi's extradition, because the original extradition was denied by Germany almost 20 years ago. There was no new request because Washington's extradition treaty with Germany does not allow a prisoner to be sent to the U.S. to face the same charges if already convicted in Germany.

TWA Flight 847 was hijacked after takeoff from Athens and was commandeered to Beirut, leading to a 17-day standoff. Stethem was a passenger.

In Germany, a spokeswoman for the Frankfurt prosecutor's office confirmed that Hamadi was released from jail last Thursday. Germany's Justice Ministry said that Berlin had no current extradition request from the United States.

A life sentence in Germany generally means a convict can be released after 15 years in prison, and the Justice Ministry said Hamadi had served his required time.

A German Foreign Ministry spokesman insisted that there was no connection between Hamadi's release and that of Susanne Osthoff, a German archaeologist and aid worker released Sunday after spending three weeks as a hostage in Iraq.

McCormack said the United States sees no connection between the releases of Osthoff and Hamadi.

DPA

Subject: German news

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