Berlin court deals another blow to Syria

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A West Berlin court convicted two Jordanians Nov. 26 for bombing a German-Arab friendship society and upheld accusations that the bomb was supplied by the Syrian embassy in East Berlin. Defendants Ahmad Hazi and Farouk Salameh were sentenced to 14 and 13 years in prison, respectively, for the March 29 bombing, which injured nine people.

There was no immediate indication whether the West German government felt it had enough evidence to take diplomatic steps against Syria. (Britain severed ties with Syria in October after a trial in London involving Mr. Hazi's brother implicated Syrian officials.)

Judge Hans-Joachim Heinze, summing up the four-day trial here, said the only evidence for official Syrian involvement in the bombing came in pre-trial confessions by the defendants.

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``But the court has no reason to doubt this when other details of their accounts have been confirmed in the course of proceedings. The court must therefore consider the accusations as credible,'' he said.

Syria denies any involvement in the bombing. The Syrian ambassador to East Germnay suggested in an interview Nov. 25 that Israel's Mossad secret service was responsible.

Shortly before the verdicts were announced, West Berlin justice officials said they had issued an arrest warrant for a man identified at the trial as a Syrian intelligence officer. The man, Abu Ahmed, was also named in the London trial of Hazi's brother as a Syrian secret service contact.

Hazi and Mr. Salameh said Abu Ahmed helped plan the bombing, operating out of the Syrian embassy in East Berlin. Reports have said Abu Ahmed, whose real name is Lt. Col. Haitham Saed, is the deputy intelligence chief of Syria's Air Force.

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