BONN (Jul. 14)
An Arab accused of air piracy and murder admitted in a Frankfurt court Wednesday that he smuggled explosives into West Germany on two occasions.
But Mohammed Hamadei, a Lebanese national, claimed he did not know what the explosives were to be used for when he brought them into the country as a favor for Lebanese friends.
He insisted he is innocent of any other crime.
Hamadei is wanted by the United States in connection with the June 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner in Beirut and the murder of one of its passengers, U.S. Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem of Waldorf, Md.
West Germany did not comply with an American extradition request, possibly out of a fear for the life of a West German national, Alfred Cordes, who was kidnapped and held hostage in Beirut last year. It was decided to try Hamadei here instead.
The kidnapping in Beirut was believed to be the work of Hezbollah, the extremist Shiite militia in Lebanon. Hamadei denied any connection with Hezbollah.
Hamadei is being tried here as a juvenile for the time being, because allegedly, he was under age at the time of the hijacking.
But the prosecutor has questioned the authenticity of Lebanese documents attesting to his age. His actual age remains to be determined.
Hamadei complained in court Wednesday that West German investigators pressured a confession from him by threatening extradition to the United States where he might face the death penalty.