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Shiites Who Hijackers Want Released in Spain Say They Are “Slaves of God” With PM-Lebanon

June 20, 1985

Shiites Who Hijackers Want Released in Spain Say They Are ″Slaves of God″ With PM-Lebanon Hijacking, Bjt

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ One of two Lebanese Shiites whose release has been demanded by the hijackers of a TWA jet testified the pair had acted as ″slaves of God″ in a shooting that wounded a Libyan diplomat.

Mohammed Rahal, 22, and Mustafa Ali Khalil, 24, are on trial in connection with the Sept. 12, 1984, attack on Mohammed Ahmed Idriss, 45. The defendants say they only wanted to damage his car.

Gunmen who identified themselves as Shiites hijacked a Boeing 727 with 153 people aboard last Friday, and are demanding the release of 700 Shiites held in Israel and the two men held in Spain.

The hijackers still hold some 40 hostages in Beirut, Lebanon.

Rahal told the court Wednesday the two Shiites had been sent to Spain last September by leaders of the Shiite Amal organization to avenge what Shiites believe was the kidnapping of one of their religious leaders, Iman Moussa Sadr.

Sadr, the spiritual head of Lebanon’s Shiites, disappeared during a 1978 trip to Libya. The Libyans deny any involvement and say Sadr had left Tripoli, Libya, for Rome before he disappeared.

In reply to a defense question of whether he would carry out an order even if it meant his death, Rahal said he and Khalil were ″slaves of God.″

Prosecutors asked 36-year prison terms for the men on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and illegal arms possession. The trial ended Wednesday evening and the judge is required to deliver a verdict within five days.

The trial date had been on the court docket for a month. The Foreign Ministry has said it would not consider releasing the two, now held in the Alcala-Meco maximum security prison east of Madrid.

But court sources have said Spain is considering the possibility that the defendants, if convicted, could be sent to Lebanon to serve their prison sentences there.

Both of the accused gave their testimony in Arabic through an interpreter.

Before the trial began they posed willingly for photographers from their glass cage.

Defense attorney Juan Manuel Olarieta Alberdi maintained the defendants were acting on orders from their commanders in the Amal militia.

Both defendants said they had received military training from Amal, and testified that their goal had been to damage the car of the employee of the Libyan Embassy, but not to injure him.

The victim, who has recovered from his wounds, took the stand as a witness for the defense.

Gustavo Aristegui, son of Spain’s ambassador to Lebanon, Pedro Manuel Aristegui, also testified for the two Shiites.

The Spanish ambassador was kidnapped Oct. 10 and held for four hours by one of Rahal’s brothers and several other men in an attempt to secure the release of the two men detained in Madrid.

Four months later Rahal’s parents invited Aristegui to lunch to smooth things over.

Update hourly