Court to Rule on Terrorists’ Claim That They Have Pow Status

A Nablus military court will rule tomorrow on the claims by four suspects in the May, 1980 ambush slaying of six yeshiva students in Hebron that they are prisoners of war and therefore cannot be tried for the crime. Similar claims of POW status under the Geneva Convention have been rejected in the past when raised by alleged terrorists facing trial.

One of the four accused is serving a life sentence for the murder of a Jewish couple last year. All of them, West Bank Arabs in their 20s and 30s, are charged with firing on their victims from ambush near the old Hadassah building in Hebron. In addition to the six dead, 16 other Jews were wounded. All were returning from Friday evening services at the time.

The prosecution charges that the leader of the group, Adnan Jaber, 33, had been trained in the Soviet Union in sabotage and espionage tactics. The others, Yasir Zayadat, 31, Muhammed Shubaki, 36, and Taisir Taha, 21, are members of El Fatah who received military training in Syria. According to the charges, they were sent on their mission by Abu Jihad, deputy to Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat. They were captured last September while attempting to escape into Jordan.

If convicted, the defendants could face the death penalty under a recent amendment to the penal code. Defense lawyers distributed pamphlets in the court-

room quoting the accused as saying they did not fear death. “Any Palestinian should be proud of their brave action in the war against Zionism,” the pamphlet said.

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