Release of 1985 TWA hijacker leaves victim's family bitter

Robert Stethem's family was never satisfied with hijacker Mohammed Ali Hamadi's life sentence in Germany for the 1985 murder of the Navy diver on a TWA airplane. Fearing that Hamadi could eventually be let go, the Stethem family pushed unsuccessfully for his extradition to the United State for trial.

Their fears were realized Friday when Hamadi was granted parole by a German court after 19 years in prison. Hamadi was allowed to fly to Lebanon that day on a commercial flight from Berlin.

His release has left the Stethems bitter, and dealt a blow to their hope that he would someday be brought before a &to=' target=_blank>U.S. court.

"I think it is absolutely disturbing," said Kenneth Stethem of California, Robert Stethem's brother. "He wasn't only released, he was given passage out of Germany."

This past summer marked the 20-year anniversary of Robert Stethem's June 1985 murder on board the hijacked TWA jet as it sat parked on the tarmac of Beirut International Airport.

Hamadi was part of a group of Shiite Muslim Lebanese militants who held TWA Flight 847 and its passengers in a 17-day ordeal during which the jet was flown back and forth between Beirut and Algeria twice _ one of a series of attacks targeting Westerners amid the turmoil of Lebanon's 1979-1990 civil war.

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