West Berlin discotheque bombing
Memorial plaque reading, "On the 5th of April, 1986, young people were murdered inside this building by a criminal bombing."
A bomb placed under a table near the disc jockey
's booth exploded at 01:45 CET
, instantly killing Nermin Hannay, a Turkish
woman, and US Army
sergeant Kenneth T. Ford. A second US Army sergeant, James E. Goins, died from his injuries two months later.
Some of the victims were left permanently disabled due to the injuries caused by the explosion.
Blame and retribution
Libya was blamed for the bombing after Telex
messages from Tripoli to the country's embassy in East Berlin
congratulating them on a job well done were intercepted.
President Ronald Reagan
retaliated by ordering airstrikes
against the Libyan capital of Tripoli and city of Benghazi. At least 30 soldiers and 15 civilians were killed.
A 2001 trial in the US found that the bombing had been "planned by the Libyan secret service and the Libyan Embassy".
Trial and conviction
In spite of reports blaming Libya for the attack on the nightclub, no individual was officially accused of the bombing until the 1990 reunification of Germany and the subsequent opening up of the Stasi
Stasi files led German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis
to Musbah Abdulghasem Eter, a Libyan
who had worked at the Libyan embassy in East Berlin. Stasi files listed him as an agent, and Mehlis said he was the Libyan spy agency's main contact at the embassy.
Eter and four other suspects were arrested in 1996 in Lebanon
, and Berlin
, and put on trial a year later. In 2001, Eter and two Palestinians, Yasser Mohammed Chreidi (or Yassar Al-Shuraidi or Yassir Chraidi) and Ali Chanaa were convicted in Berlin's Landgericht
of aiding in murder
, and Chanaa's former German wife, Verena, was convicted of murder. They were given sentences of 12 to 14 years in prison.
Prosecutor Mehlis proved beyond reasonable doubt that the three men had assembled the bomb in the Chanaas' flat. The explosive was said to have been brought into West Berlin in a Libyan diplomatic bag.
Verena Chanaa and her sister, Andrea Häusler, carried it into the La Belle in a travel bag and left five minutes before it exploded.
Ms Häusler was acquitted because it could not be proven that she knew a bomb was in the bag.
Background to the bombing
The judge, Peter Marhofer, said it was not clear whether Gaddafi or Libyan intelligence had actually ordered the attack, though there were indications that they had. Two weeks before the bombing, Gaddafi called for Arab assaults on American interests worldwide after a U.S.-Libyan naval clash
in the Mediterranean
, in which 35 seamen on a Libyan patrol boat in the western Gulf of Sidra
were killed in international waters claimed by the Libyan government.
Chreidi was extradited
from Lebanon to Germany in 1996 in connection with the bombing.
He had been working for the Libyan Peoples' Bureau in East Berlin at the time of the bombing. Chreidi was said to have connections with Palestinian
fighter Abu Nidal
, who used to live in Tripoli and was financed by Libya in the 1980s. Eter was reported to be the Libyan spy agency's point man at the embassy in East Berlin.
On 17 August 2003, newspapers reported that Libya had signaled to the German government
that it was ready to negotiate compensation for the bombing with lawyers for non-U.S. victims.
A year later, on 10 August 2004, Libya concluded an agreement to pay a total of $35 million compensation.
In October 2008, Libya paid $1.5 billion into a fund to compensate relatives of the following:
- Lockerbie bombing victims with the remaining 20% of the sum agreed in 2003;
- American victims of the West Berlin discotheque bombing;
- American victims of the 1989 UTA Flight 772 bombing; and,
- Libyan victims of the 1986 US bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi.
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- ^ 1986: US launches air strikes on Libya| bbc.co.uk
- ^ Apr 14, 1986: U.S. bombs Libya Archived 3 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine This Day in History
- ^ 39. Große Strafkammer des Landgerichts Berlin
- ^ "afrol News – 'La Belle' verdict favours Libya". Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- ^ "BGH 5 StR 306/03 – 24. Juni 2004 (LG Berlin) · hrr-strafrecht.de". Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- ^ "World News Briefs;Lebanon Hands Suspect Over to German Court". New York Times. 24 May 1996.
- ^ Beirut liefert aus : Textarchiv : Berliner Zeitung Archiv
- ^ Anker, Jens. "Entschädigung nach 18 Jahren". Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- ^ GmbH, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "Aktuelle Nachrichten online". Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- ^ "German Missions in the United States – Home". Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- ^ "Libya compensates terror victims". BBC News. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
Last edited on 27 March 2021, at 15:48
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