BONN (Sep. 7)
The young Lebanese man who has told a Frankfurt court he helped hijack a TWA jet in June 1985 maintained contacts with the Iranian government and possibly acted on instructions from the Moslem fundamentalist regime.
News of a possible Iranian connection to the hijacking, in which an American Navy diver was killed, emerged Tuesday, when telephone conversations between Mohammed Ali Hamadei and his brother, Abbas Hamadei, were read aloud in the courtroom as part of evidence brought by the prosecution.
The West German prosecutor has been trying to prove Hamadei’s involvement in the killing of the American, Robert Dean Stethem. Hamadei has denied murdering Stethem, whose body was thrown out of the plane onto the tarmac at Beirut Airport.
The trial has attracted much attention, as it is seen as a test of Western powers’ resolve to fight international terrorism. Bonn rejected a request to extradite Hamadei to the United States to stand trial there, promising to impose a proper penalty on Hamadei if convicted.
When Hamadei admitted complicity in the hijacking this summer, he had said his motive was to fight Zionism and to force the release of hundreds of Arabs from Israeli prisons.
But he not only continued to deny any complicity in the murder but also said he had not had contacts with Iran, and refused to give any information about the other hijackers.
Hamadei and his family are believed to form a group in a Lebanese town that is responsible for the kidnapping of a West German businessman.
The Bonn government faces the difficult task of trying Hamadei for the hijacking while attempting to free the hostage, Rudolf Cordes, who was allegedly kidnapped in retaliation for Hamadei’s arrest.
The West Germans subsequently arrested Abbas Hamadei in connection with the kidnapping. He led them to a cache of explosives near the German-French border.