ATHENS (Jul. 19)
Two Palestinians were sentenced to life imprisonment and four others jailed for up to nine and a half years for the 1991 bomb blast in Patras that killed seven people.
The convictions marked the first time the Greek authorities have been able to break a terrorist network of any kind.
An Athens court used the anti-terrorist law to sentence Ibrahim Bairat, 29, and Abu al-Nubani, 27, to life-plus-25-years for the terrorist explosion that occurred when a bomb intended for the British Consulate in Patras went off prematurely.
The blast wrecked the offices of a private mail company and killed four employees, two customers and the Palestinian carrying the bomb.
The court found the defendants guilty “because as leaders of the Islamic Holy War Movement group, they were responsible for the attack.”
Four other Palestinians were sentenced for transporting arms and explosives, while two Palestinians and a Greek woman charged with lesser counts were acquitted.
The eight Palestinians, all students at Greek universities, said they would appeal their sentences.
Once the identity of the bomb carrier was established three days after the explosion, and his connection with Nubani was made by investigators, the Palestine Liberation Organization stepped into the picture to try quickly to defuse the situation.
PLO OFFICIALS DENY ANY LINK
PLO representatives in Athens denied that the Palestinians involved had anything to do with the organization. Nubani was in fact “captured” and delivered to the Greek authorities by the PLO after reportedly being told what to say, according to a source close to the investigation.
“It was a fair trial, conducted in a fair manner, said Abdullah, head of the PLO diplomatic mission in Athens, after the conclusion of the trial. Abdullah said the case showed that there was “no organized criminal conduct behind the tragic incident, but rather individual actions.”
These Palestinians made a mistake “and they paid for it,” said Abdullah. “We have complete confidence in the Greek judicial system. Responsibility lies solely with the individuals, rather than an organized group.”
Asked whether the verdict might affect Greece’s relations with the PLO, Abdullah said, “certainly not. It is evident from the trial that PLO had nothing to do with the tragic incident. On the contrary, from the outset, the PLO was cooperative and assisted the Greek government.”
As to Nubani, he claimed throughout the case that he had nothing to do with the bombing and that the whole issue was a “frame-up of the Mossad,” the Israeli intelligence agency.
In related developments, the former PLO representative in Athens, Mansour Gadour, was to be expelled from Greece, together with five other “diplomats” and twenty more Palestinians. But Gadour, who is married to the locally well-known Greek journalist Evi Demiri, was spared deportation after Greek prime minister Konstantin Mitsotakis personally intervened in his favor.