URGENT Waiter Tells Newspaper He Threw Body into Sea With PM-Hijack Rdp, Bjt
ROME (AP) _ A Portuguese waiter on the Achille Lauro was quoted today as saying that he and the ship’s hairdresser were forced by hijackers to throw the blood-covered body of Leon Klinghoffer into the ocean.
Joaquim Pineiro Da Silva was quoted in Corriere della Sera, Italy’s largest newspaper, as saying two of the four Palestinian terrorists stuck a machine gun in his back and threatened to kill him and the hairdresser, Ferruccio Alberti, if they didn’t obey.
″He was flat on his face, with the wheelchair turned over. There was blood all around,″ Da Silva, 27, was quoted as saying.
Klinghoffer, 69, from New York City, was often confined to a wheelchair since suffering a stroke earlier this year.
″So Ferruccio and I picked up the old American by the armpits and turned him around,″ Da Silva told the newspaper. ″He was all covered with blood, so much that we couldn’t figure out where he was hit. We picked him up, he was already almost cold.″
″The ship hadn’t moved for some time and there was no noise from the engine room. We threw the body overboard and I tried not to look. I heard it fall in the water. I wish I could cry but I can’t.″
Klinghoffer body was found off the coast of Syria earlier this week and brought to Rome for an autopsy. Officials said he was killed by gunshots, reportedly in the chest and head.
The pirates and three alleged accomplices, two of them fugitives, have all been charged in the killing. The hijackers have told judicial magistrates in Italy that they did not kill anyone aboard the ship, which they hijacked off the Egypt coast Oct. 7 and held for two days.
The waiter was quoted as saying that the terrorists had come to them between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Oct. 8 and took them to the back of the ship, where he saw the American’s body on the deck.