LONDON (Nov. 1)
Two Palestinians convicted in connection with the 1994 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in London have lost their appeal.
Jawad Botmeh, 31, and Samar Alami, 33, were convicted in 1996 of conspiracy to bomb the embassy and a separate building that houses the London offices of Jewish charities.
They were each sentenced at the time to 20 years in prison, to be followed by deportation.
They launched an appeal in October 2000, claiming that evidence had been withheld from the defense.
A three-judge panel rejected their appeal Thursday.
Jewish and Israeli leaders in London were pleased by the verdict.
“We were never in any doubt that they were guilty, and we’re glad justice has been served,” said a spokesman for the Community Security Trust, an organization dedicated to protecting the British Jewish community.
The spokesman, who asked not to be named, said the evidence that had been withheld from the defense “did not go to the heart of the matter.”
Botmeh and Alami’s original 1996 defense advanced two claims: that an unknown man who had befriended them was actually behind the bombings, which injured some 20 people; and that the Israelis did it themselves to invoke sympathy.
A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London rejected both allegations.
“The outrageous argument that lay at the basis of this appeal — that it was Israel which was responsible for bombing its own embassy — has been shown up once again for the libelous drivel that it always has been,” D.J. Schneeweis said.
The Community Security Trust spokesman said the evidence against the pair was very strong.
Botmeh, who came to Britain from Bethlehem in 1985, “admitted to having constructed bombs, which he said were to be taken to Israel to be put in model planes” and flown into Israeli targets, the spokesman said.
Botmeh also had threatened to kill Jewish students when he was chair of the Palestinian Society at Leicester University, the spokesman added.
Botmeh was the subject of a disciplinary hearing with the university’s vice chancellor as a result of the threats, the spokesman said.
He also was linked to the purchase of the two cars used in the 1994 bombings.
Security sources said there was also evidence showing that Alami had attended “Jewish meetings,” but fled when she realized she had been spotted.
Papers found when her apartment was searched after the bombing included an application to join the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a radical Syrian-based group that opposes peace with Israel. The group claimed responsibility for the October assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi.
The London bombings came a week after a car bombing at a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires killed 85 people and injured some 300 others.
The decision reached this week by the Court of Appeal is final, although the defendants can, in theory, file a further appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.