BERLIN (AP) -- A Berlin court convicted four people Tuesday in the 1986 bombing of a West Berlin disco that killed two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman. The United States blamed the attack on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi -- a charge the court said was not proven.
The court said the bombing was planned by members of the Libyan secret service and workers at the Libyan Embassy in then-East Berlin. But Judge Peter Marhofer said prosecutors failed to prove Gadhafi ordered the attack due to the refusal of the German and U.S. secret services to provide evidence.
Marhofer said "the limited willingness" of the German and U.S. governments to share intelligence was one of the disappointments of the trial.
The court said four defendants plotted the attack but found only Verena Chanaa, a 42-year-old German, guilty of murder. She was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Yassir Chraidi, a 42-year-old Palestinian accused of being the main organizer, was convicted of multiple counts of attempted murder and as an accessory to murder, as were Musbah Abdulghasem Eter, 44, a Libyan, and a Lebanese-born German, Ali Chanaa, 42. Chraidi was sentenced to 14 years; Eter and Ali Chanaa, who is Verena Chanaa's ex-husband, to 12 years each.
A fifth defendant, Verena Chanaa's sister, Andrea Haeusler, 36, was acquitted.
The April 5, 1986, explosion at the La Belle disco killed Sgt. Kenneth T. Ford, 21, and Nermin Hannay, a 29-year-old Turkish woman, immediately. Sgt. James E. Goins, 25, died later of his injuries, and 229 people were wounded.
The United States blamed Libya and launched retaliatory airstrikes on two cities there. But after years of investigations and often murky testimony, the four-year trial became a lesson in the difficulty of trying to prove terrorist ties -- especially more than a decade after the events.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.