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2 Cleared of Plotting to Bomb U.S. Base

Turkish man and his American girlfriend are sentenced on lesser charges in Germany.

May 07, 2003|From Associated Press

HEIDELBERG, Germany — A court cleared a Turkish man and his American girlfriend Tuesday of charges that they planned to bomb a U.S. military base in Germany around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, but it sentenced the man to 18 months in prison on lesser charges.

Osman Petmezci, 25, was initially charged with planning to attack the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Department or a store on the base in this southwestern city. The base is home to 16,000 U.S. troops and dependents. His girlfriend, Astrid Eyzaguirre, 23, was charged with being an accessory.

Prosecutors conceded Tuesday that they lacked evidence to uphold the bomb plot charges against the defendants, who worked on the base.

But it convicted Petmezci of illegally possessing explosives, theft and drug violations.

Eyzaguirre was acquitted of the explosives charge but given six months' probation for growing marijuana.

German police arrested the couple Sept. 5 on an FBI tip. Investigators found gunpowder and six pipes they believe were intended for making a bomb, and other chemicals that could be used for homemade explosives, at their apartment. They also found a picture of Osama bin Laden.

But the case stumbled last week when a prosecution witness retracted statements that Eyzaguirre had mentioned two specific bomb targets at the base -- prompting the court to release her from custody.

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