ATHENS (May. 14)
The Greek Supreme Court ruled by a 4-1 margin Friday that alleged Palestinian terrorist Mohammad Rashid should be extradited to the United States to stand trial for a fatal airliner bombing.
But the final decision rests with the minister of justice, who can order extradition or override the high court under Greek law.
Nevertheless, the U.S. State Department welcomed, as a first step, the court’s rejection of Rashid’s appeal against extradition.
It “opens the way for Rashid’s extradition,” the department’s deputy spokesman, Richard Boucher, said in Washington on Friday.
Rashid, 39, also known as Hamdan, was indicted in the United States for the 1982 bombing of a Pan American Airways jet in which one passenger was killed and 15 were injured.
In Washington, a State Department source would not predict how the Greek justice minister would decide this case. But Greece knows “how outraged we were when a previous justice minister freed a previous terrorist,” the source said.
The reference was to Abdel Osama al-Zomar, 27, who is wanted in Italy for the 1982 attack on the main synagogue in Rome, in which a 3-year-old child was killed.
Zomar was released from a Greek jail last Dec, 6 and “deported” to Libya by order of the justice minister, despite Italy’s longstanding extradition request.
Rashid went to the court hearing professing “faith in Greek justice.” He said he “intends to go back to Palestine and continue fighting.”
At the hearing, he had vocal support from about 350 members of the Greek National Students Union. They shouted slogans such as “The terrorists are not the freedom fighters. The terrorists are the American Zionists.”