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Defiant Hamadi Silent at Kin's Kidnap Trial

January 28, 1988|WILLIAM TUOHY and CHARLES P. WALLACE | Times Staff Writers

BONN — A Lebanese accused in the 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner refused to testify Wednesday at his brother's trial in a West German court, while in Beirut, a West German-Lebanese man was abducted in an apparently related incident.

Defiantly raising his manacled hands in the Duesseldorf courtroom, Mohammed Ali Hamadi insisted that he would not answer questions about charges against his brother, Abbas Ali Hamadi, in connection with the kidnaping of two West Germans in Beirut a year ago.

Mohammed is awaiting trial on a charge of air piracy and murder for allegedly taking part in the hijacking of the TWA plane. A U.S. Navy diver who was on board was killed by the hijackers as the plane stood on a runway in Beirut.

The man abducted Wednesday in Beirut was identified as Rudolf Schray, 30, an engineer with a chemical company. Relatives told the news agency Reuters that a third Hamadi brother was behind the kidnaping.

They identified the third brother as Abdel Hadi Hamadi, who like Mohammed and Abbas is a Shia Muslim. He is said to be a leader of the radical, Iran-backed, Shia organization known as Hezbollah, or Party of God, which is believed to be responsible for the abduction of the two West Germans last year.

One of those two, Alfred Schmidt, was released in September after strenuous diplomatic efforts on the part of the Bonn government. The other, Rudolf Cordes, is still held.

In Duesseldorf, the presiding judge in the Abbas Hamadi trial, Klaus Arend, said that "if the same circle of kidnapers is involved (in the incident in Beirut), it could make the situation tougher here, and lead to the opposite effect."

He did not amplify on the remark, but it was taken to mean that the incident would be taken into consideration when Abbas, if convicted, was sentenced.

By late Wednesday, no group had claimed responsibility for Schray's abduction, but U.S. officials have identified Hezbollah as the group involved in most kidnapings of foreigners in Lebanon.

A man who said he was related to Schray but asked not to be identified by name said he had been told that Abdel Hamadi ordered the abduction of Schray in order to put pressure on the West German authorities to free his brothers.

The news agency Reuters quoted the man as saying: "We received information a month ago that they were looking for a German to kidnap but had found none. Finally, it seems, they seized someone whose origin is German."

Schray was abducted by six gunmen in a commercial district of West Beirut, bringing to 21 the number of foreign hostages in Lebanon. Schray's Lebanese wife, Rana, told reporters that his father is West German and his mother Lebanese, and that he has spent most of his life in Beirut.

"I don't know who kidnaped him or why," she said.

She said that "he was born here, he belongs here." Despite the wave of abductions of foreigners, his wife said, "he was never frightened because he did not identify himself as a German; he is more Lebanese than the Lebanese."

In addition to his work as an engineer, Schray had taught statistics at Beirut University College until a year ago, when, according to his wife, he argued with fundamentalist Muslim students.

Other Victims

Four other members of the university faculty, including three Americans, Alann Steen, Robert Polhill and Jesse Turner, were abducted last January.

The gunmen, using three autos, seized Schray near a Syrian army checkpoint, witnesses said. One gunman, fending off a shopkeeper trying to interfere, said: "We are from the Syrian security forces. Go away."

Syrian officials in Beirut are said to be embarrassed by the incident. The Syrians are charged with looking after security matters there.

"His abduction is a challenge to our presence," a Syrian officer said. "We will do our utmost to secure his release."

Mohammed and Abbas Hamadi have both been in custody in West Germany since last January.

Mohammed, 23, was arrested at the Frankfurt airport with explosives in his possession. He is wanted in the United States for his alleged part in the TWA hijacking, the Navy man's killing and the taking of hostages.

Abbas, 29, was arrested a few weeks later and charged with kidnaping the Germans, Schmidt and Cordes, soon after his brother's arrest, and with attempting to coerce the German authorities into releasing his brother.

Abbas went on trial earlier this month, and on Wednesday Mohammed was flown under heavy guard from where he is being held in Frankfurt to Duesseldorf to give evidence. He refused to give anything but his name.

U.S. officials have asked West German authorities to extradite Mohammed to the United States so that he might be tried there, but in testimony Tuesday, a senior West German official said the request has been rejected on the grounds that to do so would endanger the lives of the hostages.

The official, Wolfgang Schaeuble, chief of staff to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, said, "We decided not to extradite after we weighed all the risks and decided that this would pose the lesser risk in light of threats to the hostages' lives."

Tuohy reported from Bonn and Wallace from Nicosia, Cyprus.

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