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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 19:11 GMT
Four jailed for Berlin disco bombing
Aftermath of disco fire, 1986
The bomb claimed three lives and injured scores
Four people have been found guilty in Berlin of the 1986 bombing of a disco - an attack which the United States and German prosecutors have blamed on Libya.

The West Berlin disco, La Belle, was popular with US soldiers when it was attacked. The bomb killed three people - including two US servicemen - and injured about 250.

They took my son from me and no verdict can replace that for me

Victim's father

The attack prompted retaliatory air strikes by the US against two Libyan cities.

The Berlin court upheld claims that Libyan secret service agents and embassy staff had planned the disco attack - but stopped short of blaming Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi in person.

Three of those sentenced worked at the Libyan embassy in what was then East Germany.

Libyan Musbah Eter
Libyan Musbah Eter - jailed for 12 years
The four people found guilty include Yasser Shraydi, a Palestinian accused of being the ringleader. He was jailed for 14 years for multiple counts of attempted murder.

Libyan Musbah Eter and Lebanese-born Ali Chanaa were also found guilty of attempted murder, and jailed for 12 years.

Chanaa's ex-wife, Verena, who actually planted the bomb, was the only one of the four convicted of murder. She was handed a 14-year sentence.

A fifth defendant, the sister of Verena Chanaa, was cleared.

'They took my son'

The explosion ripped through the La Belle disco on 5 April 1986. Twenty-one-year-old US Sergeant Kenneth T Ford and 29-year-old Turkish woman Nermin Hannay died at the scene.

Another US sergeant, James E Goins, died later in hospital of his injuries.

Relatives of the victims and former soldiers expressed disappointment at the sentences.

"They took my son from me and no verdict can replace that for me," the father of Kenneth Ford told the Associated Press news agency.

Yasser Shraydi
Palestinian Yasser Shraydi was described as the ringleader
The judge said prosecutors had failed to prove that the attack was planned on the personal orders of Colonel Gaddafi, partly because of the lack of co-operation from Western secret services.

But he said the bombing had been planned by members of the Libyan secret service and workers at the Libyan embassy in East Berlin.

The judge criticised the "limited willingness" of German and US secret services to provide evidence.

It was one of the "disappointments" of the trial, he said.

Efforts to find the bombers received a massive boost when files of the former East German secret police, the Stasi, were released after the reunification of Germany.

The files named Eter as a Libyan secret agent. He was arrested, and his testimony provided further names and details.

See also:

15 Oct 01 | World
Date set for Lockerbie appeal
02 Feb 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Gaddafi keeps West guessing
11 Dec 99 | Middle East
Libya seeks new beginning
07 Nov 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Germany
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