BONN (Nov. 27)
The West German government Thursday ordered the expulsion of five Syrian diplomats, froze economic aid to Syria and said that its Ambassador’s post in Damascus will remain vacant. The sanctions remained short, however, of an outright break in diplomatic relations.
A government spokesman, Friedhelm Ost, said the court’s findings in the trial of two Palestinians sentenced Wednesday for bombing the German-Arab Friendship Society in West Berlin last March clearly indicated that Syria had “violated the basic rules governing relations between states.”
A U.S. spokesman for the American, British and French commanders who nominally exercise occupation authority over the western part of the divided city said that an unspecified numbers of Syrians stationed in East Berlin will be banned from the western part of the city.
A West Berlin judge on Wednesday sentenced Ahmed Hasi, 35, to 14 years’ imprisonment, and Farouk Salameh, 40, received a 13-year sentence. Hasi is the brother of Nezar Hindawi who was convicted in a London court last month and sentenced to 45 years in prison for attempting to smuggle explosives aboard an El Al airliner at Heathrow Airport last April 17.
Presiding Judge Hans Joachim Heinze issued a warrant for the arrest of Haythem Saed, a senior Syrian Air Force intelligence officer, after finding evidence of Syrian complicity in the bombing. The evidence was based on the pre-trial confessions of the two defendants. Saed, also known as Abu Ahmed, was implicated at Hindawi’s trial. The Syrian connection with the attempt to blow up the Israeli airliner led Britain to break diplomatic relations with Syria.
The West German government in an official statement Thursday called on Syria “to prove its verbal condemnation of international terrorism by concrete acts.” It also called on Damascus “to stop its support to groups and individuals involved in terrorist attacks.?
Deputy Foreign Minister Juergen Moelleman said that West Germany will not sever its diplomatic relations with Damascus “as diplomatic relations exist to help solve problems between nations.”