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Germany Drops Couple’s Bomb Plot Charges

May 6, 2003

HEIDELBERG, Germany (AP) _ Prosecutors on Tuesday dropped charges alleging a Turkish man and his American girlfriend plotted to bomb a U.S. military base in Germany around last year’s Sept. 11 anniversary, but upheld lesser charges of illegal explosives possession.

Osman Petmezci, a 25-year-old Turk, was initially charged with planning to attack the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Department or a store on the base in this southwestern city. The base is home to 16,000 U.S. troops and dependents stationed mainly with the Army’s European headquarters and the V Corps’ headquarters.

His girlfriend, Astrid Eyzaguirre, 23, was charged with being an accessory.

After the couple’s Sept. 5 arrest on an FBI tip, German investigators found gunpowder and six pipes they believe were intended for making a bomb, as well as other chemicals that could be used for homemade explosives, at their apartment in Walldorf, south of Heidelberg. They also found a picture of Osama bin Laden.

Prosecutors charged that the couple had anti-American and anti-Israeli views and that they had planned the attack to take place around the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

In final arguments Tuesday, prosecutor Joerg Richter maintained the materials in the apartment proved Petmezci wanted to build a pipe bomb, justifying charges of illegal explosives possession.

But the trial evidence lacked ``sufficient specificity″ to uphold charges that the two plotted a bomb attack, he told the court.

Petmezci has denied the charges, saying when the trial opened April 11 that he only wanted to make firecrackers. Eyzaguirre declined to testify during the trial.

The case faltered last week when a prosecution witness retracted her earlier account to police that Eyzaguirre had mentioned two specific bomb targets at the base. The witness, an American woman who worked with Eyzaguirre at the base store, said she had alerted the FBI to the alleged bomb plot.

Petmezci also is charged with theft because prosecutors allege he stole the chemicals from his workplace. In addition, he and Eyzaguirre are charged with drug violations for allegedly growing and using marijuana.

Prosecutors are seeking a two-year and 10-month jail term for Petmezci and a one-year suspended sentence for Eyzaguirre, who was released from custody last week.

The verdict was expected later Tuesday after closing arguments by the defense.

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