Abbas Hamadi Sentenced to 13 Years For Beirut Kidnappings
DUESSELDORF, West Germany (AP) _ A court convicted Abbas Hamadi on Tuesday of abducting two West Germans as ransom for his brother, Mohammed, who is accused of hijacking a TWA jetliner.
Abbas Hamadi, 29, was sentenced to 13 years in prison after being found guilty on all charges of kidnapping, coercion and possession of explosives.
″It is totally reprehensible to rob two innocent people of their freedom and make them fear for their lives,″ Chief Judge Arend said in explaining the sentence he and his four colleagues meted out to Hamadi.
The 13-year term was 18 months longer than the prosecution requested. The maximum allowed was 15 years.
Hamadi, who is bearded and wore a sport coat and open-necked shirt, slumped into his chair after hearing the verdict and remained silent. More than 100 spectators, most of them reporters, were in the room.
Mohammed Hamadi was arrested at Frankfurt airport Jan. 13, 1987, and Abbas 13 days later, both with explosives in their possession. Mohammed Hamadi is accused in the June 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner to Beirut in which a U.S. Navy diver was killed and 39 Americans were held hostage for 17 days.
Both Hamadis were living in West Germany at the time of their arrests. After Mohammed Hamadi was jailed, but while his brother was free, two West Germans were kidnapped in Beirut: Rudolf Cordes on Jan. 17 and Alfred Schmidt on Jan. 20.
Schmidt was released in September, but Cordes remains a hostage.
Arend said the evidence proved Abbas Hamadi was among radical Shiite Moslems who plotted the kidnappings to try to block Mohammed Hamadi’s extradition to the United States. West Germany has refused extradition and assigned Mohammed Hamadi’s case to juvenile court for trial.
In Washington, deputy State Department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said: ″We commend today’s action by the West German court, which sends a clear signal to terrorists.″
Defense lawyer Eckart Hild said he would appeal and told reporters: ″I do not find this judgment at all convincing.″ Abbas Hamadi denied involvement in the kidnappings but admitted storing explosives near his home in Saarland state for his younger brother.
The chief judge said in court: ″After the arrest of Mohammed Hamadi, the group in Beirut considered whether to attack the West German Embassy in Lebanon, hijack a German airliner or kidnap a German citizen,″ and decided on kidnapping.
An older Hamadi brother, Abdul-Hadi, also was among the plotters, Arend said. He is security chief in Beirut for Hezbollah (Party of God), a Shiite Moslem group allied with Iran.
In the 3 1/2 -month trial of Abbas Hamadi, the court heard tapped telephone conversations between him and Lebanese friends in West Germany indicating he was among the plotters. A compelling piece of evidence was a letter Schmidt sent to his mother from captivity that bore Hamadi’s fingerprints.
″There is no doubt the fingerprints are those of Abbas Hamadi,″ Arend said.
He said evidence showed the defendant acted as an interpreter during questioning of the hostaged soon after their abductions. Abbas Hamadi has spent several years in West Germany and is fluent in the language, but was in Beirut when Schmidt and Cordes were kidnapped.
Abbas Hamadi threatened Schmidt at one point while holding a gun and also struck him with his hand, Arend said.
″The accused demanded that Schmidt hand over the addresses of other Germans in Beirut,″ which indicating the kidnappers were seeking more victims, the judge declared.
Schmidt testified at the trial that he and Cordes were chained to a wall for four months.
″Animals should not be treated the way the hostages have been treated,″ Arend said, looking directly at Hamadi.
He said Hezbollah planned to take the explosives stored near Abbas Hamadi’s home to France for terrorist acts. The judge did not elaborate.
According to Arend, evidence showed Abbas Hamadi also was guilty of coercion. That charge stemmed from the kidnappers’ threat to kill their hostages if Mohammed Hamadi was given to the United States.
West Germany rejected the extradition request last year and said he would be tried here.
No trial date has been set for Mohammed Hamadi, whose case was turned over to juvenile court. Prosecutors’ files show he now is 23, but judicial officials say there is some question about his age at the time the hijacking was planned.