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German Firms Reportedly Linked to Second Libyan Poison Gas Plant

Diplomatic sources here have confirmed that the United States has provided the West German government with information about a second chemical weapons factory under construction in Libya.

But the government has not yet verified reports that some West German companies are involved, the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported Monday.

Spokespersons for the opposition Social Democratic and Green parties have warned the authorities in Bonn to treat the reports seriously and take quick action.

They recalled how the West German government injured its credibility when it initially dismissed American information, later shown to be true, that the Libyans were building a poison gas factory with material and technological assistance from West German firms.

The new plant is said to be modeled after the factory at Rabta, some 40 miles south of Tripoli, which was reported partially destroyed by fire recently. Subsequent reports indicate the fire may have been a hoax and that the Rabta plant may still be operational.

The new factory is being built underground in the area of Sabha, about 300 miles southeast of Tripoli. Der Spiegel claimed the West German industrial giant Thyssen was shipping equipment to the factory.

Meanwhile, Jurgen Hippenstiel-Imhausen, founder and owner of the chemical plant that bears his name, will go on trial June 11 in Mannheim, the local prosecutor announced Sunday. He is accused of illegally helping Libya build the plant at Rabta.

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