Flight 103 Suspect Convicted on Separate Terrorism Charges With AM-Flight 103, Bjt
UPPSALA, Sweden (AP) _ A Palestinian suspected in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 was convicted Thursday in a series of terrorist attacks in northern Europe four years ago, along with three co-defendants.
The Palestinian, Mohammed Abu Talb, was sentenced to life in prison, which in Sweden generally means 20 years at most behind bars. He is expected to be expelled after serving his time, the court said.
The verdicts were delivered on the first anniversary of the bombing of Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people.
A Swedish newspaper Thursday said new evidence had surfaced linking Abu Talb to the attack, including a calendar found in his apartment with the date Dec. 21 circled.
Abu Talb, a 35-year-old former bodyguard in the radical Palestine Popular Struggle Front, and co-defendant Marten Imandi received life sentences for bombing the Northwest Orient airlines office in Copenhagen in 1985. One person was killed and more than 20 were wounded.
Two brothers, Mahmoud and Moustafa Al Mougrabi, were given sentences of six years and one year respectively for their involvement in three attacks in Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
All the defendants were acquitted in a fourth incident in Stockholm in 1986. The case was decided by a judicial panel.
″The type of crime ... is extremely serious. It is directed against the lives and property of innocent people. Society must react very strongly against such crimes,″ said the court in its 100-page decision.
Abu Talb’s attorney said he would appeal the conviction, which was based largely on the testimony of Mahmoud Al Mougrabi.
In addition to the Northwest Orient office, the men were convicted in bombings at a Cophenhagen synagogue, where seven people were hurt, and the offices of El Al Israel airlines in the Danish capital and in Amsterdam. No one was injured in those explosions.
Abu Talb was arrested in May in connection with the attacks. He came under suspicion in the Lockerbie case after Swedish investigators established he had been in Malta about the time the Lockerbie bomb may have been prepared. The altitude-sensitive bomb apparently was hidden in a radio-cassette recorder, which was placed in a suitcase and wrapped in clothing bought in Malta.
Abu Talb’s lawyer, Sven-Erik Sjogren, repeated his client’s denial that he was involved in the Flight 103 incident and said his trip to Malta was for business.
Last month, police seized clothing from Abu Talb’s home in Uppsala, about 40 miles north of Stockholm, to compare it with shreds found in Lockerbie and with clothing from a boutique in Malta.
Sjogren has challenged the legality of the raid, but he said he understood the clothing already had been flown to Malta for analysis.
A Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, reported Thursday that Scottish detectives were disappointed with the results of the examination in Malta.
Dagens Nyheter said further evidence has surfaced linking Abu Talb with Lockerbie. Police found a 1988 calendar with the date Dec. 21 circled, it said.
After the police raid, Abu Talb’s wife also was recorded in a wiretapped telephone call warning another Palestinian, who was not identified, to ″get rid of the clothes immediately,″ the paper said. Police later seized a suitcase from the family she called, the paper added.
Abu Talb came to Sweden from Syria with his wife and child on a false Moroccan passport under the name of Belaid Massoud Ben Hadi. He settled in Uppsala and ran a store specializing in Arabic foods and videotapes.