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Customs Alleges Plot to Build Flying Command Post for Gadhafi

March 23, 1991

MIAMI (AP) _ The owner of a Belgian aircraft repair company has been ordered held without bail on charges that he illegally exported parts to repair Libyan military planes.

Duane Egli, 58, of Miami was arrested Thursday and accused of violating a presidential order banning trade with Libya.

Egli’s company, Flanders Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering, allegedly contracted with the Libyan government through a Libyan middleman in Switzerland to repair a fleet of C-130 transport aircraft parked in the Libyan desert.

Project workers told a confidential informant that one of the C-130s was intended to be Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s flying command post, and a $1.6 million VIP interior was considered for installation, said an affidavit filed in federal court by Customs Service agent Keith Prager.

U.S. Magistrate Ted Bandstra on Friday ordered Egli held without bail pending a bond hearing Monday.

Egli attorney Robert Leventhal said he had no comment on the criminal complaint, filed against Egli in Madison, Wis., because he had not been in contact with his client.

The charges are an outgrowth of a Customs investigation by agents in Florida, Wisconsin, Washington state and Europe into a network of parts suppliers they believe helped Egli with the project.

Ryder System’s Miami-based aviation subsidiary, Derco Industries in Milwaukee and Pacific Aero Support in Washington were named as U.S. companies linked to Egli’s operation.

Ryder provided some C-130 parts to the Belgian company for work on the Libyan aircraft, and a separate investigation found that several Ryder shipments bound for Great Britain and the Netherlands wound up in Libya, Prager said. He did not indicate if Ryder knew of the ultimate destination.

″We have no record of selling anything to those people,″ said Ryder spokesman Art Stone. ″It is the company’s clear policy not to sell anything to Libya.″

Derco general manager Mark Hoehnen said the company did not export anything involved in the case. He said Derco received a request for a quotation, was questioned about it by Customs officials and cooperated fully.

″We did nothing wrong,″ he said Saturday.