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Hijacker Says He Now Rejects Violence : Participant in 1985 TWA Incident Denies He Killed U.S. Sailor

Associated Press

Mohammed Ali Hamadi, who has admitted taking part in the 1985 TWA hijacking in which a U.S. Navy diver was killed, testified today that he now rejects “all forms of violence.”

Hamadi is charged with air piracy and murder in connection with the hijacking. Thirty-nine Americans were held captive for 17 days, and diver Robert Stethem was shot and killed after TWA Flight 847 was seized on a flight from Athens to Rome and diverted to Beirut.

Hamadi, a Lebanese Shia Muslim, says he was among the hijackers but he insists that he did not kill Stethem and that he tried to dissuade an accomplice from shooting the 23-year-old sailor.

Today, Chief Judge Heiner Mueckenberger asked Hamadi whether he renounced violence.

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Hamadi replied:

“Yes. Before the hijacking I thought such methods were right. But now I realize you can fight for your homeland without using weapons. I reject all kinds of violence.”

The defendant repeated that he did not kill Stethem.

“I already said the other (one of his accomplices) was responsible and he was the murderer,” Hamadi said.

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“Our orders were not to kill. We were told to hijack the plane, to force it to land and to state our demands. But not to kill,” he said. He refused to say who issued the orders.

Mueckenberger asked Hamadi where he got the weapons used in the hijacking.

“On the plane itself,” Hamadi replied. He refused to say how the weapons got there.

Hamadi said the hijackers had two hand grenades and a pistol.

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U.S. officials have indicted four people in the hijacking, including Hamadi. The three other suspects remain at large.

West Germany rejected a U.S. extradition request for Hamadi after two West Germans were taken captive in Beirut by kidnapers seeking Hamadi’s release.

Hamadi has testified that the hijackers’ goal was to force the release of Lebanese Shias imprisoned in Israel. Shortly after hijacking, Israel freed about 700 Lebanese.

In April, a Duesseldorf court sentenced one of Hamadi’s brothers, Abbas Hamadi, to 13 years in prison for kidnaping two German businessmen in Beirut in an unsuccessful bid to force West Germany to free Mohammed. One of the West Germans was freed, but the other remains a hostage.

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