German Firm on Trial for Helping Libya Gain Ability to Strike Israel

State prosecutors in Munich are seeking a stiff penalty against a Bavarian firm alleged to have helped Libya develop midair refueling capability for its fighter bombers, enabling them to strike long-range targets, including Israel.

Officials of the Bavarian Economics Ministry testified before the state parliament here Friday that the company, Intec, participated in a multi-million dollar program to convert U.S.-made Hercules transport planes into refueling tankers.

Military experts say Libya wanted to develop the capability to launch a poison gas attack against Israel from the air. This would be accomplished by outfitting the bombers with air-to-ground missiles carrying chemical warheads.

The prosecution is seeking fines of several hundred thousand marks against Intec in Vaterstetten, a town near Munich.

Heinz Kaiser, a member of the Munich parliament, criticized the prosecutor for taking no action until now, even though Intec’s illegal involvement with Libya has been known since 1988.

Kaiser charged that some influential quarters in the government wanted to cover up the affair.

The owner of Intec, Eberhard Mohring, was found dead in his hotel in the Libyan capital of Tripoli on May 19, 1989. Munich tabloids suggested he was murdered by Israel’s secret service.

But prosecution officials said Friday that an autopsy showed no evidence of foul play.

Libya is believed to have manufactured poison gas at a plant in Rabta, south of Tripoli.

On June 27, West German industrialist Jurgen Hippenstiel-Imhausen, founder and former manager of a chemical firm called Immhausen-Chemie, was sentenced to five years in prison for illegally helping Libya build the Rabta plant.

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