The D.C. Court of Appeals let stand yesterday a ruling allowing Hilvan Finch, a former Hanafi Muslim convicted in the 1977 armed seizure of three Washington buildings, to remain free.

Finch's lawyer, Greta Van Susteren, said the action, which allows an August decision by a three-judge panel of the court to stand, almost certainly ends the seven-year battle between federal prosecutors and the D.C. courts over Finch's sentence.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said prosecutors, who could appeal the case to the Supreme Court, are studying the appellate court's ruling.

Finch, also known as Abdul Hamid, was one of seven Hanafi Muslims who took over the Rhode Island Avenue NW headquarters of B'nai B'rith on March 9, 1977. That same day, five other Hanafi Muslims seized the Islami Center on Massachusetts Avenue NW and the District Building. During a 72-hour standoff, a radio reporter was fatally shot and three persons, including Marion Barry, then a D.C. Council member, were wounded.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Nicholas Nunzio reduced Finch's sentence in 1980 and later freed him from prison. Nunzio said Finch participated in the Hanafi Muslim takeover against his will, and did not divulge that information during his trial because he feared his family would be killed.