ROME (Mar. 25)
A 24-year-old Palestinian who served a 20-month prison sentence in Athens for smuggling explosives will be extradited shortly to stand trial here as an alleged accomplice in the October 9, 1982 terrorist attack on Rome’s main synagogue in which two-year-old Stefano Tache was killed and 33 worshippers were wounded.
Last Tuesday, the Greek Minister of Justice, Jargos Alexandros Mangakis, signed an extradition order requested by the Italian government for Abdel Osama Al Zomar who was living in Italy on a student visa at the time of the attack.
Al Zomar, born on the West Bank, was arrested at kipi on the Greek-Turkish border on November 22, 1982 after 60 kilos of TNT was found in the trunk of his Mercedes car. A companion, Mohammad Al Fayez, was also arrested but since released.
Al Zomar had been posing as a student in Italy, first in Perugia and later at the University of Bari. He never showed up for exams. A letter he wrote from his Athens prison cell to a friend in Bari provided the first clue of his involvement in the synagogue attack.
A court of appeals in Piraeus ruled in favor of extradition on April 29, 1983. But Greek law mandated that he complete the sentence for the crime he was convicted of in Greek territory.
Al Zomar’s term was up nine months ago. His lawyer managed to postpone extradition proceedings by invoking Art. 3 of the European Convention of Paris to argue that Italy could not guarantee his protection in a “hostile” environment.
While the legal ramifications were being argued, the suspect remained in confinement in Athens. With the extradition order finally signed, he is expected to be brought to Rome in the next few days under escort by Interpol agents.