BRUSSELS (Jan. 17)
A Belgian shipping executive faces charges of falsifying documents to conceal the shipment of construction material and chemicals to Libya.
Louis Gedopt, 44, director general of the Antwerp-based Cross Link Shipping Co., is suspected of having had contacts with West German companies believed to be helping Libya build its Rabta plant, which the United Sates says is producing chemical weapons.
The Belgian authorities are reported to be investigating cargo — loaded at Hamburg and officially destined for Hong Kong — which is being diverted at Antwerp and routed to Libya by cross Link.
Gedopt is suspected of falsifying documents to circumvent West German restrictions on exports to Libya. He is also under investigation for his financial records.
In West Germany, meanwhile, Chancellor Helmut Kohl has run into trouble for concealing the involvement of German companies with the Libyan chemical plant.
The chancellor’s belated admission last week that American allegations were “substantial” touched off a storm in the Bundestag.
The opposition Social Democratic Party and Green Party have demanded an inquiry, and the Bundestag’s Permanent Committee, which supervises the Secret Service, will meet Jan. 25 to find out why the government suppressed information.
The West German news media have done a complete about-face. A week ago, newspapers and television were complaining of an American smear campaign, which some said was launched by Jewish-controlled publications serving Israeli interests.
But on Monday, the mass circulation weekly news magazine Der Spiegel stated flatly that West Germany was helping Libya acquire the capability to attack Israel by air.
The weekly claimed German companies were providing the technology for mid-air refueling of Libyan fighter planes, as part of a Libyan plan to attack Israel with chemical weapons.
(JTA correspondent David Kantor in Bonn contributed to this report.)