Three Arab commandos appeared before an Athens criminal court on Wednesday (June 24) to answer charges of illegal possession of explosives - an offence which carries a possible life jail sentence.
SCU Miss Maha Abu Khalil out of police van into court
CU Court sign
CU Two male accused handcuffed together out of police van
CU INT. Pressmen
CU People search at Tye enter court
SCU Three accused talking with former justice minister, M. El Fadl (large man with check tie)
SV & CU PAN Three accused
CU Palestine Liberation Front representative Armand Shawki talks with accused
CU One of the accused
SV Court president enters
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Background: Three Arab commandos appeared before an Athens criminal court on Wednesday (June 24) to answer charges of illegal possession of explosives - an offence which carries a possible life jail sentence.
The three commandos, Miss Maha Abou Khlalil, a 22 year-old teacher, Issam Doumit, aged 18, and Sami Abboub, aged 20, were arrested at Athens airport on December 21, 1969.
Police claimed that they found explosives, revolvers and grenades in their baggage. They were booked on a Trans World Airways jet to New York via Rome.
Strict security measures were in force inside and outside the court as the three young Lebanese were hurried into the building, and everyone entering the court was searched.
The indictment accused them of having planned the hi-jacking of an American airliner after its take-off from Athens airport. They are said to have told an investigating magistrate that they intended to hi-jack a Transworld Airline Boeing 707 which was on a routine flight from Tel Aviv to New York via Athens and Rome.
The three are alleged to have told the magistrate they were members of the Front for the liberation of Palestine, and that they had acted under orders from their superiors.
The indictment also said that they planned to direct the plane to Tunisia, and destroy it there.
The full charge was of illegal possession of explosives with the aim of destroying foreign property and endangering the lives of the plane's 32 passengers.
About ten witnesses - six for the prosecution and four for the defence - are expected to give evidence in the trial.
The girl was flanked by two women security officers but the two men were taken handcuffed to the court - a fact which provoked sharp protest. They demanded that in future they be taken into court without handcuffs because they were not common criminals but "fighters struggling to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation forces".
In Court with the accused was Palestine Liberation Front Representative Armand Shawki.