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Italian Court Upholds Sentences of Four Achille Lauro Hijackers

Italy’s highest court has upheld the life prison sentences imposed on Palestinian terrorist leader Abul Abbas and three of his cohorts responsible for the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro.

Abbas, whose real name is Mohammad Zaidan, heads the Palestine Liberation Front. A Genoa court passed sentence on him and two of his lieutenants, Ozzudin Badratkan and Ziad el-Omar, and on another liberation front militant, Abdulirahin Kales. All are fugitives.

The high court also upheld the Genoa court’s 30-year prison sentence for one of the hijackers, Magied al-Molqi, who murdered cruise passenger Leon Klinghoffer, an American Jew who was confined to a wheelchair.

The court, which announced its decision Tuesday, rejected defense pleas for clemency based on arguments that the hijacking was politically motivated.

The Achille Lauro was hijacked in Egyptian waters on Oct. 7, 1985, while on a cruise that originated in Genoa. About 700 people aboard were held hostage for 41 hours.

During the hijacking, Abbas pretended to act as a mediator with the terrorists. But communications monitored by American intelligence showed him to have masterminded the crime.

Abbas is currently believed to be directing terrorist attempts to infiltrate Israel from southern Lebanon. Avi Benayahu, writing in Al Hamishmar on April 28, reported that Abbas aspires to succeed the late Abu Jihad as second in command of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

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