Government Pardons Two Lebanese Terrorists
MADRID, Spain (AP) _ The government has issued pardons to two Lebanese men who were serving 23- year prison terms after being convicted of attempting to kill a Libyan diplomat, Spain’s EFE news agency reported Saturday.
EFE, quoting National Court sources, said Mohammed Rahal, 22, and Mustafa Khalil, 24, both Shiite Moslems, would be freed soon from the Alcala-Meco prison near Madrid.
It appeared their pardons were linked to the release in Lebanon earlier this year of three employees of the Spanish Embassy in Beirut who had been kidnapped by Shiite extremists.
Rahal and Khalil were sentenced in June 1985 after being found guilty of illegal possession of firearms and assault with a deadly weapon in the attack on Mohammed Ahmed Idriss, an official at the Libyan Embassy.
Idriss was slightly wounded in both arms when the gunmen fired on his car as he was driving along a Madrid street on Sept. 12, 1984.
During their trial Khalil and Rahal said they had not intended to kill Idriss but wanted to damage his car in revenge for the disappearance pf Iman Moussa Sadr, Lebanon’s Shiite spiritual leader.
Sadr vanished in 1978 after flying from Italy to Libya, and Shiite militants accuse the Libyan regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi of kidnapping and killing him. Libya has denied the charge and claimed Sadr had returned to Rome.
Rahal and Khalil also told the court that the Shiite Amal militia in Lebanon had arranged their trip to Madrid and supplied the weapons for the attack on Idriss.
The three Spanish Embassy employees were kidnapped last Jan. 17 as they were driving from the Beirut airport to the embassy.
Anonymous telephone callers, in messages to news agencies in Lebanon, said the Spaniards would be freed in exchange for the release of Rahal and Khalil.
But the embassy employees were freed soon after Interior Undersecretary Rafael Vera went to Beirut on Feb. 18 to attempt to negotiate their release.
When Vera returned to Madrid two days later, he said the Spanish government was studying ways in which Rahal and Khalil might serve out their terms in a Lebanese prison but such an arrangement ″would not happen right away and would in no way constitute a concession.″