A Lebanese man who was serving a life sentence in Germany for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner and the killing of a US Navy diver has returned to Lebanon after German authorities paroled him, a Lebanese security official and the Hezbollah guerrilla group said today.
Mohammed Ali Hamadi was released and returned to Beirut a few days ago, said a Hezbollah official in Beirut.
A Lebanese security official also confirmed Hamadi had arrived four days ago aboard a commercial flight from Germany, but would not elaborate. It was not immediately known where Hamadi went after his entry to Lebanon.
A German law enforcement official said Hamadi was released from prison and left Germany.
Hamadi was arrested at the Frankfurt airport on January 13, 1987 for involvement in the hijacking, after customs officials discovered liquid explosives in his luggage.
TWA flight 847 from Athens to Rome was hijacked to Beirut, where the hijackers shot U Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem, 23, of Waldorf, Maryland, and dumped his body on the tarmac.
At the time, the US authorities requested Hamadi’s extradition so he could stand trial in the United States, but the Germans, who have no death penalty, insisted on prosecuting Hamadi.
Today, German Justice Ministry spokeswoman Eva Schmierer said Germany had not received any request from the United States for Hamadi’s extradition.
A spokeswoman for the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office, Doris Moeller-Scheu, said Hamadi’s case came up for regular review by a parole court and he was released after an expert assessment and a hearing.
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Martin Jaeger, said there was no connection between his release and that of Susanne Osthoff, a German woman who was released on the weekend after spending more than three weeks as a hostage in Iraq.
Stethem, 23, was beaten and shot on June 15, 1985, while the plane was in Beirut. He was the only casualty during the hijacking ordeal, in which 39 Americans were held hostage for 17 days.
He received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart decorations, and a US Navy guided missile destroyer is named in his honour.