Turkey Convicts Two Libyans in Club Bomb Plot
Two Libyans accused of attempting to bomb a U.S. officers club in Ankara three days after the U.S. air raid on Libya were each sentenced to five years in prison by a Turkish state security court Friday.
Ali Ejefli Ramadan and Rajab Muhtar Tarhuni, both 31, were acquitted of forming an armed gang to commit murder but found guilty of possessing explosives.
They were also sentenced to internal exile of 20 months in separate towns in western Turkey after their jail terms and were also fined $110 each, Presiding Judge Ekrem Celenk announced.
The two men were arrested in Ankara on the night of April 18, three days after the United States raided Tripoli and Benghazi in response to the bombing of a West Berlin disco, in which an American servicemen and a Turkish woman were killed. The two men were found carrying a bag full of Soviet-made fragmentation grenades near the U.S. officers club, then packed with wedding party guests, the prosecution’s indictment said.
The men had denied the charge of forming an armed group to commit murder and said their pre-trial confessions had been made under torture.
They appeared pleased with the decision, smiling and bowing to the court as the verdict was translated into Arabic.
Ramadan said his target was to be cars parked outside the officers club but the prosecution accused the pair of lying to try to reduce the sentence.
In passing sentence, the judge said the court decided to acquit the pair on the charge of setting up an organization to commit murder, since there was not enough evidence to show they had plotted in advance.
The court ruled Thursday it could not try three other Libyans involved in the case because they have diplomatic immunity.