After several weeks of deliberation, a Cyprus court announced on Tuesday (4 April) that two Arab gunmen were guilty of the murder of Egyptian newspaper editor Youssef Sibai.
After several weeks of deliberation, a Cyprus court announced on Tuesday (4 April) that two Arab gunmen were guilty of the murder of Egyptian newspaper editor Youssef Sibai. He was shot at the Nicosia Hilton hotel on 18 February. This incident triggered off the hijacking of a Cyprus Airways DC-8, and led to the chaotic Egyptian commando raid on Lanarca airport the day after.
SYNOPSIS: A special assizes court was set up for the gunmen's trial, after they were arrested at Lanarca airport several weeks ago. Since then, this scene has been often repeated -- the two Arabs being driven to court, under heavy police escort, for the proceedings. But, this was to be their last visit for the trial proper as they appeared to hear the court's verdict. The usual strict security measures were set up in and around the court.
The gunmen's defence lawyer, Mr. Lefcos Clerides, told the court the two accused had not planned the murder of Youssef Sibai, who was reported to have been a close friend of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. After taking more than four hours to read the final judgment, the president of the court pronou??? the two Arabs -- Samar Mohammed Khadar and Zayed Ahmet Al Ali -- guilty of premeditated murder. Both had pleaded not guilty to the charge, but admitted taking hostages and commandeering an aircraft after the murder.
The death sentence is mandatory in Cyprus for premeditated murder, and the defence has said it would appeal. An execution date has been set for June the first, but nobody has been hanged in Cyprus for 15 years, and President Spyros Kyprianou may commute the death sentences to life imprisonment.