Three Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists who murdered an Israeli couple and their friend aboard a yacht in Larnaca, Cyprus last Wednesday are not likely to be extradited to Israel for trial.
Israel’s extradition request was presented to the Cypriot Foreign Ministry Friday by Ambassador Meir Gavish who was promised a reply after it is studied by the Attorney General. But a Cypriot government spokesman said it would be rejected on grounds that the murders were committed in Cyprus and Cyprus therefore is responsible to bring the killers to trial.
The heavily armed trio who seized the yacht at the Larnaca tourist marina before dawn on Yom Kippur and surrendered 10 hours later after committing triple murder, claimed they were Palestinians.
Two of them, Elias Yehiya and Nasif Mahmoud, apparently are, but the third, who initially gave his name as George Hannah, has been identified as an Englishman, lan Michael Davison of South Shields. He described himself to television reporters as “a skinhead, a real young fascist thug.”
ONE KILLER DESCRIBED AS A NEO-FASCIST
Early reports from Larnaca Wednesday indicated that Davison, alias Hannah, was German. The Israeli media today quoted British newspapers and the man’s father as describing Davision, 27, as a neo-fascist with a reputation as a rowdy at soccer matches played by the Sunderland team of which he was an ardent fan.
Davison told television reporters in Cyprus that he was among the 1,200 PLO fighters evacuated from Tripoli, northern Lebanon, to Yemen in 1983. He said he joined the PLO after seeing photographs of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila refugee camps massacres. He became a fervent supporter of PLO chief Yasir Arafat.
According to the British press, Davison belonged to the PLO elite unit known as Force 17 which was formed originally as Arafat’s bodyguard and later used to protect other leaders of El Fatah, the terrorist arm of the PLO. It was also used to liquidate anti-Arafat elements within the PLO and for special “showcase” terrorist acts against Israel.
The bodies of the three Israeli murder victims were flown to Israel in an Air Force plane Thursday night. Reuven Paltsur, 53, owner of the yacht, and his wife, Esther, 50, were buried in Haifa today. The funeral was delayed until their 23 year-old son, Yohai, one of four children, returned from a holiday abroad.
Their friend, Avraham Avneri, 53, was buried Friday in his home town of Arad. He had accompanied the Paltsurs on a holiday cruise which left Haifa September 16.
The marina where the killings occurred was a favorite mooring of Israeli yachtsmen and there were more than a dozen pleasure boats from Israel there at the time of the murders. Most have returned to Israel. But other Israeli yachts were reported sailing to Cyprus over the weekend on previously planned cruises. Their owners and crews are carrying arms for protection.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.