An Athens Criminal Court on Thursday (January 24) passed death sentences on two young Arab Guerrillas.
SV Police on guard at courthouse street entrance (2 shots)
SV Zoom in Police officer outside court Pan across to courthouse
SV INT Accused surrounded by police at court
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SV Zoom to CU Accused talking to each other
SCU Zoom out to GV Accused and police seated
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Background: An Athens Criminal Court on Thursday (January 24) passed death sentences on two young Arab Guerrillas. The Court found them guilty of killing five people and injuring 45 others in an attack at Athens Airport last August.
The four judges and three jurors of the court ignored a plea for leniency by the public prosecutor when sentencing Shakif Arid and Talaal Khantouran.
The court said the two 22 year olds who claim to be members of the Black September guerrilla organisation had committed "a particularly atrocious" crime -- a description that under Greek law makes the death sentence mandatory.
The two men were arrested last August after turning the transit lounge of Athens airport into what one witness described as "a slaughterhouse". Of the five who died, four were United States citizens. The young Arabs tossed three grenades and sprayed machine gun fire into a queue of passengers bound for New York. The attackers said later they had mistaken a queue of passengers for Israeli migrants leaving for Tel Aviv. In their defence Sharif Arid said "we are prepared to liberate Palestine at any cost."
On Friday (January 25) Greek troops guarded oil refineries, industrial sites and airports against the possibility of guerrilla reprisals for the death sentences.
The two men can appeal on the grounds of trial irregularities. Their defence counsel Constantine Stefanakis, said he would appeal on the grounds that the court "ignored" the prosecution plea to spare the defendants' lives.
Legal experts said the Greek President General Phaedon Gizikis may ask that the two Arabs be pardoned. They would then be expelled from the country, a procedure followed with seven other Arabs in the past two had been jailed for attacks on Israeli and United States property in Greece.