Communist Juror Said Removed Because of Contacts Between Party and PLO
GENOA, Italy (AP) _ A Communist lawmaker was removed from the jury in the Achille Lauro trial because he was the subject of a telephone conversation between a local party official and a PLO representative, major newspapers said Sunday.
Silvio Ferrari was dropped from the jury Saturday by Judge Lino Monteverde and will be replaced by an alternate when the trial resumes Tuesday.
Fifteen defendants are on trial, including Mohammed Abbas, leader of the Palestine Liberation Front, who allegedly masterminded the Oct. 7 cruise ship hijacking off Egypt. He is a fugitive and one of 10 defendants being tried in their absence.
Three of the four Palestinians accused of actually seizing the ship are on trial. The fourth will be tried later by a juvenille court. American passenger Leon Klinghoffer, 69, was killed during the two-day hijacking in the Mediterranean.
Ferrari, a Communist Party member of the Genoa provincial legislature, said Friday he was asked to resign from the jury by Gennaro De Feo, Genoa’s chief prosecutor.
In a letter, De Feo said, without elaborating, that Ferrari could be the ″object of pressures″ from Graziano Mazzarello, secretary of the Communist Party’s provincial office.
Italian newspapers said Sunday that authorities tapped a telephone conversation between Mazzarello and Genoa’s representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization before the trial.
″Have you read the newspapers?″ Mazzarello was quoted as saying in the transcript. ″Among the jurors is one of our comrades.″
Rome’s La Republicca newspaper said Sunday: ″The chief prosecutor won his battle, a victory obtained thanks to a phone call recorded by security police.″
Mazzarello confirmed at a news conference Saturday that he telephoned the PLO representative, who was not identified further, but said he never told Ferrari of the call.
Two newspapers, Turin’s La Stampa and Rome’s Il Tempo, quoting unidentified sources in Genoa, meanwhile reported that a car bomb was found and defused in a parking lot at Rome’s international airport 10 days ago. They said the bomb was related to the start of the Achille Lauro trial.
Airport security officials released a statement Sunday saying the reports were ″absolutely untrue.″