ADIYALA, Pakistan — Five handcuffed Arab defendants pleaded innocent today to charges of hijacking and murder in the 1986 airport seizure of a Pan Am jumbo jet in which 21 people were killed and nearly 200 wounded.
It was the first time the five--three Lebanese, a Syrian and a Libyan--appeared together before a special one-man tribunal set up inside Adiyala district prison near Islamabad.
All could hang if convicted.
Four of the five are accused of being the men, dressed as airport security guards, who stormed aboard Pan Am Flight 73 at Karachi with automatic weapons, pistols and grenades on a stop from Bombay, India, to New York on Sept. 5, 1986. The fifth is the accused mastermind of the hijacking.
The attackers held about 400 passengers and crew of the Boeing 747 for nearly 17 hours, demanding to fly to Cyprus to pick up some unspecified Palestinians jailed there on terrorism charges.