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Defense Asks for Aquittal; Hamadi Denies Involvement in Kidnappings

April 13, 1988

DUESSELDORF, West Germany (AP) _ Defense attorneys for Abbas Hamadi asked a federal court to acquit the Lebanese man charged in the kidnappings of two West Germans in Beirut.

In a surprise announcement Tuesday, a Frankfurt state court said Hamadi’s brother, Mohammed Hamadi, will be tried in a juvenile court.

That decision means Mohammed Hamadi, charged with murder and air piracy in the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jet, faces a maximum 10-year prison sentence if convicted. An adult court could sentence him to a possible life term upon conviction.

Abbas Hamadi is accused of kidnapping two West Germans in Lebanon in January 1987 allegedly to force West Germany to free his brother.

″I had no direct or indirect involvement in the kidnappings,″ Abbas Hamadi told the five-judge panel Tuesday after his attorneys concluded their final arguments.

Earlier, defense counsel Ludwig Hoeller told the court that his client did not contest charges of possessing explosives. He recommended that Hamadi be sentenced to one year in prison but added that Hamadi should be released immediately because already he has served more than a year in investigative custody.

Prosecutors last week asked for a prison sentence of 11 1/2 years on kidnapping, coercion and explosives charges.

A verdict is expected next week.

Hamadi is charged with kidnapping West German businessmen Rudolf Cordes and Alfred Schmidt in Beirut in 1987.

Cordes was seized at Beirut Airport on Jan. 17, 1987 and Schmidt was abducted from his Beirut hotel room three days later. Schmidt was released last September in what his captors called a ″goodwill gesture,″ while Cordes remains in captivity.

″Much of the evidence against my client is based on testimony from witnesses of dubious credibility, on hearsay, and on interrogations that were conducted improperly,″ chief defense counsel Eckart Hild Hild said earlier Tuesday.

Federal Prosecutor Karl-Heinz Schnarr said evidence, including wiretaps and fingerprints, proved conclusively that Abbas Hamadi was involved in the kidnappings.

The abductions came shortly after Mohammed Hamadi was arrested at Frankfurt Airport on Jan. 13, 1987 carrying liquid explosives. Abbas Hamadi was arrested in Frankfurt on Jan. 26, 1987.

Mohammed Hamadi was charged in February with murder, hijacking, hostage- taking and other crimes stemming from the June 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner to Beirut, during which a U.S. Navy diver was killed and 39 U.S. citizens held hostage for 17 days.

A Frankfurt state court on Tuesday said Mohammed Hamadi would be tried in a youth court because ″the perpetration of the crime″ may have begun before he was age 21. The statement said the state prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt listed Mohammed Hamadi’s birth date as June 13, 164.

″The state court has studied this case intensively and is convinced that it belongs in the juvenile court,″ Hesse state court spokesman Thomas Kehren said.

It is possible that the juvenile tribunal declines the case, ″but that is highly unlikely under the circumstances,″ Kehren told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Under West German law, defendants age 21 or older at the time of the crime are considered adults, those between 18 and 21 are adolescents, and those under age 18 are juveniles. Adolescents as well as juveniles are tried in juvenile courts.

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