December 21, 2005


Navy diver's killer held in Beirut (Nicholas Kralev and Gary Emerling, December 21, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

The Lebanese killer of a U.S. Navy diver was in custody in Beirut yesterday, according to U.S. officials who decried his release from a German prison last week and pledged to bring him to the United States for trial.

Relatives of the victim -- Waldorf, Md., native Robert Dean Stethem -- said yesterday they were "devastated" to learn of the killer's release and urged the Bush administration to demand an explanation from Germany.

"Just to see him free slays us," said Richard Stethem, father of the seaman whose beaten body was thrown onto a Beirut runway in 1985. [...]

A life sentence in Germany ranges between 20 and 25 years, with the possibility of parole after 15 years. Hamadi, now 41, was convicted in 1989, and the two years served prior to that were deemed part of his sentence. [...]

A senior State Department official said Hamadi was in "temporary custody" in Lebanon, although it was not clear where or when he was arrested.

Mr. McCormack said Washington was "talking to the Lebanese government" about bringing him to the United States, but that the issue was complicated by the lack of an extradition treaty with Lebanon.

Germany refused to extradite Hamadi to the United States because he could face the death penalty. It also argues that he has been punished for his crime....

Maybe Morgenthau had a point...

Gonzales Asked Germany to Hold Hijacker (ANNE GEARAN, December 21, 2005, AP)

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales personally asked the German government not to release a terrorist accused of killing a Navy diver, but was rebuffed, the Bush administration said Wednesday.

Mohammed Ali Hamadi was freed on parole by German authorities after serving 19 years of a life sentence for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA plane during which a U.S. Navy diver was killed. The 17-day ordeal riveted the United States and brought Middle East terrorism home for many Americans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 21, 2005 9:25 AM

We know the CIA is not competent, but if it were, this guy should be dead within the year.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at December 21, 2005 10:22 AM

Very interesting. The Lebanese government appreciates our recent help in their efforts to extricate themselves from Syria, and many of them would like more help.

Posted by: John Thacker at December 21, 2005 11:04 AM

How hypocritical can a country be. They don't believe in the death penalty but a murderer can get out in 15 years. Perhaps the Israelis could give us a hand delivering justice.

Posted by: Genecis at December 21, 2005 11:06 AM

It's probably better just to assassinate this guy. If you bring him to trial in the U.S., there will be a genuine legal problem with the fact that he's already served a more-or-less full term for his crime in another jurisdiction. It's not double jeopardy in the American constitutional sense, but it does present a problem. They would do best to try him on slightly different grounds.

Posted by: Lisa at December 21, 2005 11:25 AM

Since double jeopardy doesn't preclude the Federal Government from trying people having already been tried in various State courts, I don't see how double jeopardy could possibly extend to individuals tried in a foreign court (especially one that didn't have initial jurisdiction) unless established by treaty.

Posted by: mike at December 21, 2005 11:43 AM

His beaten body needs to be discovered on the tarmac at Beirut airport.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 21, 2005 12:05 PM

No, body parts wrapped in bacon need to appear in various countries.

Posted by: Sandy P at December 21, 2005 12:06 PM

He could be fed to the pigs, like that Chinese fellow on Deadwood does.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 21, 2005 12:38 PM

I agree that there are issues, not or constitutional double je0pardy, but of various statutory schemes taking consideration of prior punishment.

It were best if this fellow simply disappeared. The "sew in a hog's hide and kick out of the back of an airplane" approach has a certain appeal, as being more immediately satiafying, but a quiet whack would be more diplomatic, and even more exemplary.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 21, 2005 1:42 PM

Does Iraq have an extradition traty with Lebanon? Send him there and we ca pick him up.

Posted by: Bob at December 21, 2005 1:58 PM

Morgenthau? As in Henry?

Posted by: Mike Morley at December 21, 2005 4:02 PM

Lisa - US courts generally count time served abroad against the US sentence. So he gets an 18 year credit against his US sentence.

Posted by: pj at December 21, 2005 6:04 PM

pj: So he would only spend 6 years on death row?

Posted by: David Cohen at December 21, 2005 7:57 PM

David - One hopes.

Posted by: pj at December 21, 2005 8:27 PM

"Maybe Morgenthau had a point..."

In spades, but the Germans are doing it to themselves.

Mike, yes, Scy of the Treasury under Roosevelt, wanted to de-industrialize germany at the end of WWII.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at December 22, 2005 1:00 AM


this was a regular release on parole, and has been in the works for months:

The American officials said they were aware that Mr. Hamadi would be granted a parole hearing at some point this year and had sought discussions with German security officials over the possibility of turning him over to the United States in the event he was released. But Mr. Hamadi flew to Lebanon before any agreement was reached, the officials said, adding that German officials had long expressed reservations about handing Mr. Hamadi over to the United States, where he might face the death penalty.

The German constitution forbids the use of the death penalty, and that also goes for extradition of criminals who might be executed.

He also wasn't flown out in secret, the American had been notified several days in advance:

U.S. and German officials said Berlin notified Washington a couple of days before Hamadi was released. The United States, whose extradition request was turned down in 1987, did not ask that he be held longer because it saw no chance that Germany would turn him over now.

I for my own part wanted him to die of old age in prison, but our laws aren't like that. 18 years is a lot by German standards. Even so I don't see how this has anything with being allies or not - our legal systems are different, and that's that. Unless you insist that all American allies have the death penalty I don't see a connection here. ;)

Posted by: Ralf Goergens at December 22, 2005 6:06 AM