3 Syrians Hanged in Public Square for Spying for Israel

Times Staff Writer

Three Syrian men were hanged in a public square here Monday for spying for Israel.

A Western diplomat said the three bodies were left in public for several hours after the execution, as an apparent deterrent to other Syrians.

The official Syrian news agency SANA said the three were spies who sold themselves "to the Zionist enemy for a few dollars."

SANA identified the men as Fuad Ali Hasan, 35, of Latakia; Mohammed Saleh Yahia Badr, 41, of Damascus, and Mustafa Mahfuz, 52, from the town of Salamiah near the northern city of Homs.

The news agency gave no details of the accusations against the three, not even to say whether they were working together or individually. A Syrian official said, however, that the three executed Monday appeared to have been relatively low-level.

Diplomats noted that the charge of spying for Israel is given wide judicial scope in Syria and has been used in the past to cover a variety of crimes including sabotage and bombings.

Nonetheless, public executions are relatively rare in this country and usually involve convicted murderers.

Syrians have been acutely sensitive to the subject of Israeli spies since it was discovered that an Israeli agent had reached the highest level of Syrian government in the 1950s. The agent, Elie Cohen, was publicly hanged after his identity was revealed.

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