Prosecutor Demands Life for “Killer Blinded by Conviction″
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) _ The prosecution demanded on Tuesday that Lebanese militant Hussein Hariri be sentenced to life imprisonment for hijacking an Air Afrique DC-10 in 1987 and killing a French passenger.
Prosecutor Willy Heim said the ″horror of the crime″ barred any leniency toward the 22-year-old defendant he described as a ″killer blinded by conviction.″
In a brief statement, Hariri, identified in court as a member of the pro- Iranian Shiite Hezbollah group, said he regretted the death of passenger Xavier Beaulieu but that the hijacking was ″not an act of terrorism but was combat.″
Hariri faces charges of murder and hostage-taking in the trial in Federal Criminal Court that began Monday. The five-judge panel hearing the case is scheduled to announce a verdict and sentence on Friday.
Heim’s final arguments came after testimony by passengers and crew members, including by a chief steward the Congolese chief steward, Andre Memba, who he said he was an eyewitness of the execution-style slaying of Beaulieu.
An American on the plane said Tuesday that he began writing his will after the Frenchman was killed.
Beaulieu was shot from behind and at close distance after a three-minute deadline set by Hariri for the refueling of the DC-10 at Geneva airport.
Hariri told the court earlier he did not intend to kill Beaulieu but that he fired without aiming when the 28-year-old Frenchman, whose head was covered with a blanket made a threatening move. Memba said Beaulieu was seated when he was shot and that Hariri was standing behind him.
″The witness was bought, the way I bought the customs official,″ Hariri protested in French. It was a reference to the $6 bribe he paid to slip by controls at Bangui, the capital of Central Africa, where he boarded the plane with a 7.65 millimeter pistol, 140 rounds of ammunition and 562 grams of TNT.
The French pilot, Edouard Artizzu, testified that a PLO representative, Nabil Ramlawi, who negotiated with Hariri at the request of Swiss authorities, was to be credited for talking the hijacker out of killing a second passenger.
Hariri earlier said Ramlawai, who heads the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Geneva mission, was a ″traitor″ and blamed him for the failure of his mission.
The plane, bound for Paris, was diverted over northern Italy July 24, 1987 with Hariri demanding the release of Lebanon and Palestinian prisoners held by French, West German and Israeli authorities. The ordeal ended when crewmembers overpowered Hariri while Swiss police stormed the plane.
In earlier testimony, the lone American hostage in the drama said he wrote his will on a page of a travel journal after he saw Beaulieu’s body taken off the plane by two stewards.
″This was the first point at which I really expected to die (too),″ said Peter W. Schroth, 42. ″I prepared a will which I gave to the steward.″
Schroth, a lawyer and Hartford, Conn., businessman, was the first passenger directly threatened by Hariri while he was collecting passports to sort out French nationals.
He said Hariri picked him after he was unable to turn over his passport because it was in his suitcase.
″He placed his pistol against the back of my head and shouted to the other passengers, ‘Look at this man, if anyone moves he will die.’ ″