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2nd West German May Be Kidnap Victim in Beirut : Action Could Complicate Bonn Extradition Plan

January 22, 1987|WILLIAM TUOHY | Times Staff Writer

BONN — A second West German national was reported Wednesday to have been kidnaped in Lebanon, possibly complicating Bonn's plans to extradite to the United States for trial a Lebanese man arrested in connection with the hijacking of a Trans World Airlines jetliner in 1985.

Reports from Lebanon indicate that Alfred Schmidt, 46, a biomedical engineer with Siemens, the big West German electronics firm, was abducted overnight from his hotel in West Beirut. Officials here, however, would not confirm the abduction.

Another West German, Rudolf Cordes, 53, a business executive, was seized Saturday by gunmen in Beirut. West German officials said here Tuesday, without elaborating, that the government has "learned there is a connection" between Cordes' abduction and the arrest on Jan. 13, in Frankfurt, of a Lebanese identified as Mohammed Ali Hamadi.

Indicted for Hijacking

Hamadi, 22, has been indicted in the United States on charges of murder and air piracy in connection with the June, 1985, hijacking to Beirut of TWA Flight 847 by Shia Muslim terrorists of the Hezbollah (Party of God) group. In that incident, 39 passengers were held hostage for 16 days, and a U.S. Navy diver was shot to death.

The Bonn government is considering a formal request by the U.S. Department of Justice to extradite Hamadi for trial. West German officials acknowledge that the request has been received from Washington but have refused to comment on press reports that Cordes might be released in exchanged for Hamadi.

Abdullah Frangi, the representative in Bonn of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that Cordes will be killed by his kidnapers if Hamadi is delivered to the United States.

No group has formally claimed responsibility for kidnaping either Cordes or Schmidt. Reports in the West German press indicate that government officials have been in contact with Cordes' kidnapers, but this has not been confirmed officially.

There have been reports, too, that Cordes' employer, the Hoechst chemical company, has been in touch with the abductors. These reports indicate that there has been no offer of a Cordes-for-Hamadi swap.

Richard R. Burt, the U.S. ambassador in Bonn, declined to discuss the possibility that Cordes' abduction has complicated the extradition of Hamadi.

A West German official, Juergen Schmid of the Ministry of Justice, said the U.S. request for extradition will be forwarded to a court in Frankfurt, which will rule on whether the terms of a 1978 extradition treaty have been fulfilled. Even if the court rules favorably, Schmid said, his government is not legally bound to go ahead with the extradition.

Link Established

Earlier, before other German officials said that a Cordes-Hamadi link had been established, Schmid said the extradition process would go quickly.

The incident has come at a particularly bad time for West Germany, which is in the midst of a national election campaign. Political activity has been intense leading up to Election Day on Sunday, and Chancellor Helmut Kohl has reportedly had to schedule campaign speeches among meetings of his hostage crisis management group.

The U.S. request for extradition was delivered here Tuesday after Washington assured Bonn that it will not ask for the death penalty in prosecuting Hamadi. West German law specifies that no one may be extradited to face capital punishment.

Abducted in West Beirut

According to reports from Beirut, Schmidt was abducted near the Summerland Hotel in West Beirut, not far from a hospital where he was overseeing the installation of equipment. The hospital manager was quoted as saying Schmidt "was kidnaped from his hotel room," but no details were offered.

If confirmed, Schmidt's abduction will bring to 18 the number of foreigners believed held by Muslim extremists in Lebanon, including five Americans.

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