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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 1998                                                                                       (202) 514-2008

TDD (202) 514-1888

COURT OF APPEALS FOR DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

AFFIRMS CONVICTION OF AIRCRAFT HIJACKER


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has unanimously upheld the conviction of a member of the Abu Nidal organization who was convicted of air piracy here in July 1996.

The defendant, Omar Rezaq, 38, was convicted by a jury trial for his role in the November, 1985 terrorist hijacking of Egyptair Flight 648.

Rezaq and two other terrorists from the Abu Nidal organization had hijacked the aircraft shortly after it departed from Athens, Greece, en route to Cairo, Egypt.

Five passengers, including three Americans and two Israelis, were shot by Rezaq in the course of the hijacking. One American, Scarlett Rogenkamp, who was an U.S. Air Force civilian employee, and one Israeli, Nitzan Mendelsohn, were killed by Rezaq.

Rezaq managed to escape from the plane. Soon afterward, he was captured by Maltese authorities and charged with murder and a number of other crimes but not air piracy. After serving seven years in prison he was released by Maltese authorities.

In July 1993 special agents of the FBI arrested Rezaq in Nigeria and transported him to the United States to stand trial for air piracy.

The jury rejected Rezaq's defense claims of a traumatic stress disorder and U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberet sentenced Rezaq to life in prison.

The appeal was handled by U.S. Department of Justice attorneys John F. De Pue and Scott J. Glick.

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98-051



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