Reagan Says No Pressure Put On Germany Over Hamadi
VENICE, Italy (AP) _ President Reagan said Thursday he did not pressure West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to extradite accused Lebanese hijacker Ali Hamadi to the United States, but Kohl has not told him whether such a request would be granted.
The president’s statements at a news conference winding up his stay here for the seven-nation economic summit appeared to contradict the account given by his principal spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater.
Fitzwater said Wednesday night that Reagan pressed for extradition during a private dinner table conversation with Kohl on Tuesday, but the West German chancellor rejected the request and gave ″the clear impression″ that Hamadi would be tried for murder in West Germany.
Hamadi, a Lebanese Shiite Moslem, is accused of taking part in the June 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner to Beirut and the murder of U.S. Navy diver Robert D. Stethem of Waldorf, Md., who was one of the passengers.
Reagan told reporters, ″Helmut Kohl and I have had some talks and I think it’s interesting to note that the only question that remains is, will Hamadi be tried for murder and hijacking in the United States or will he be tried for murder and hijacking in Germany, because that is what they intend to do.″
″Now there has been no decision made yet as to whether there would be extradition or not, but whichever way he is going to be tried for the crime of killing our young Navy man in that hijacking,″ the president said.
Asked about Fitzwater’s account of what Kohl told him, the president said, ″I do not know whether there has been a decision. He has never said outright to me, ‘No extradition.’ He said, ‘This is what remains to be determined: Just where is he going to be tried?’ But I have not put any - attempted to put any pressure on him, either.″
Chief West German spokesman Friedhelm Ost said Bonn is still deliberating whether to hand Hamadi over to the United States.
″As Chancellor Helmut Kohl told the president of the USA, Ronald Reagan, in Venice, Mohammed Ali Hamadi will either be extradited to the USA, or charges of murder and hijacking will be made against him before a German court. The government has not yet decided between these two alternatives,″ Ost said in a statement issued to the news media in Bonn.
In an interview with West German television Thursday, Ost refused to say when an announcement on Hamadi’s case could be expected. He said a decision could not be made under ″time pressure″ and that there was no deadline.
On Wednesday, Bonn Justice Ministry spokesman Henning Gehl said that a decision might come ″in the next few weeks.″