BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ A defense lawyer asked a court on Wednesday to dismiss kidnapping and murder charges in the 1976 slaying of the U.S. ambassador.
Roland Gemayel told the Appeals Court that the charges were invalid because U.S. Ambassador Francis E. Meloy had not presented his diplomatic credentials at the time of his death.
He said the charges were therefore covered by a general amnesty law passed by Parliament in 1991 clearing individuals of political crimes during the 1975-90 civil war.
Gemayel is defending Bassem Mohammed Farkh, one of three suspects in the deaths of Meloy, his economic counselor Robert O. Waring and their Lebanese driver Mohammed Moghrabi.
The three men disappeared in June 1976 at a militia checkpoint as they crossed the border separating Beirut’s Christian and Muslim sectors during the civil war.
Their bullet-riddled bodies were found several days later in Muslim west Beirut.
The Appeals Court is retrying Farkh and Nameq Ahmed Kamal. The third suspect, Toufic Mohammed, is at large.
The three were convicted in absentia and sentenced to life imprisonment in May 1994. Farkh and Kamal were granted a retrial after they surrendered.
The Appeals Court adjourned until next Wednesday to consider the defense request.