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Palestinian Terrorists Defended

October 27, 1976
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A Turkish public prosecutor who said last August he would seek the death penalty for two Palestinians accused of killing four El Al passengers and injuring 24 at the Istanbul Airport, reversed himself last week and asked instead for life imprisonment claiming there were mitigating circumstances in their case, according to reports reaching here from Istanbul.

The prosecutor made his statement at the start of the trial of Mohammed Hussein al-Rashid and Mohammed Mebdi Zilhe who admitted at the time of their arrest that they were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and that they were in the pay of Libya. The two terrorists, in a machinegun and hand grenade attack on the passengers who were about to board a Tel Aviv-bound El Al plane, killed two Israelis, Shlomo Weisbach and Ernest Eliash, a Japanese tourist guide, Yakao Hiramo, and an assistant to Sen. Jacob Javits (R.NY), Harold W. Rosenthal.

The public prosecutor said the violence committed by the two men had been random, that they surrendered themselves to the police and had openly confessed their guilt. A lawyer representing three Israelis injured in the attack called for the death penalty. The case was adjourned until Nov. 16.

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