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Germans Start Extradition Request

March 25, 1998

HANOVER, Germany (AP) _ German prosecutors have taken the first steps toward requesting the extradition of a German man facing trial in Israel for plotting a terror attack.

Stephan Smyrek, 26, has been in custody in Israel since Nov. 18, accused of plotting with the Lebanon-based Shiite Muslim guerrilla group Hezbollah to carry out a suicide bombing attack in Israel. Israeli authorities say Smyrek confessed to his role in the plot.

German prosecutors say Smyrek started planning the attack in Germany in the late summer of last year. State prosecutors said Wednesday that there was enough evidence to try Smyrek in Germany.

No attack was ever carried out on Israeli soil.

Last week, German prosecutors obtained a warrant for Smyrek’s arrest from the state court in Hanover _ the first step in extradition proceedings, Lower Saxony state prosecutor Angelika Gresel said.

The extradition request now must be reviewed by the state Justice Ministry and then forwarded to the federal Justice Ministry before a final decision is made on whether to request the extradition from Israel.

Dan Assan, Smyrek’s attorney, says his client cannot get a fair trial in Israel and has been mistreated in prison.

In February, the district court in Tel Aviv temporarily delayed the start of Smyrek’s trial pending Assan’s request for a change of venue. On Tuesday, it extended the starting date again, until May.

``I believe that it will be the best possible solution, that the trial will not take place in Israel,″ Assan said Tuesday in Tel Aviv.

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