URGENT Abbas Hamadi Convicted For Role In Kidnapping Of Two West Germans
Apr. 19, 1988
DUESSELDORF, West Germany (AP) _ A court today convicted Abbas Hamadi and sentenced him to 13 years in prison for helping abduct two West Germans in Beirut in hopes of forcing the Bonn government to free his brother, TWA hijacking suspect Mohammed Hamadi.
The 29-year-old defendant looked dejected after hearing the sentence and slumped into his chair. He made no comment.
Presiding Judge Klaus Arend said Abbas Hamadi was guilty of the charges of kidnapping, coercion and possession of explosives.
Alfred Schmidt, one of two West Germans kidnapped in the week after Mohammed Hamadi's arrest, has been freed. Arend appealed for the release of the second, businessman Rudolf Cordes, who has been held since Jan. 17, 1987.
''Free Rudolf Cordes and show the world your own humanity,'' the judge said.
He condemned terrorism, saying: ''Terrorists work to bend other people to their will.''
Arend said that after Mohammed Hamadi's arrest at Frankfurt airport in January 1987, Abbas Hamadi talked by telephone with people in the Lebanese capital, including another brother, Abdul Hadi Hamadi.
''After the capture of Mohammed Hamadi these men formed a circle in Beirut who decided to do something to block the possible extradition (to the United States) of Mohammed Hamadi,'' Arend said.
In testimony at the trial, West German police said they had monitored telephone calls made by Abbas Hamadi, who has lived in West Germany for several years.
Abdul Hadi Hamadi is Beirut security chief of Hezbollah, a radical pro- Iranian Shiite Moselm group that is believed to be an umbrella for the groups holding 22 foreign hostages in Lebanon.
The 13-year prison sentence came as a surprise because prosecutors had asked only for a sentence of 11 1/2 years.
Throughout the trial that began Jan. 5, Abbas Hamadi denied having anything to do with the kidnappings.
Prosecutors said Hamadi participated in the abductions in an attempt to force the West German government to release Mohammed Hamadi, who is being held on charges stemming from the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner to Beirut. A U.S. Navy diver was killed and 39 Americans were held hostage for 17 days in the hijacking.
Defense attorney Ludwig Hoeller told the court last week that Abbas Hamadi did not contest the explosives charges against him and recommended that he be sentenced to one year in prison. But Hoeller said his client should be freed because he had served more than a year in investigative custody.
Federal agents testified during the trial that Abbas Hamadi's fingerprints were found on a letter Schmidt wrote to his mother while he was being held hostage.
Federal prosecutor Karl-Heinz Schnarr said in his closing arguments that evidence did not link Abbas Hamadi directly to the gunmen who abducted the Germans, but he said the defendant played a role after the kidnappings.
Mohammed Hamadi was arrested at Frankfurt airport on Jan. 13, 1987 while carrying liquid explosives. Abbas Hamadi was arrested in Frankfurt on Jan. 26, 1987.
Mohammed Hamadi was charged in February with murder, hijacking, hostage- taking and other crimes connected to the TWA hijacking. After his arrest, Abbas Hamadi admitted helping his brother hide liquid explosives near Abbas Hamadi's home in Saarland state.
The coercion charge against Abbas Hamadi stemmed from his attempt to force the West German government to reject a U.S. extradition request for his brother. West Germany denied the request last year, but promised that Mohammed Hamadi would be put on trial in West Germany.
Last week, a Frankfurt state court said a juvenile court would hear Mohammed Hamadi's case because he may have been under age 21 when the hijacking was being planned. The juvenile court could still decide to try Mohammed as an adult.