D.C. Superior Court Judge Nicholas S. Nunzio yesterday further reduced the sentence of a Hanafi Muslim, effectively eliminating probation requirements and travel restrictions and freeing the man, who had served three years of a 36-to-100-year prison term.
Nunzio reduced 25-year-old Abdul Hamid's sentence to time already served, and did not order -- as he had earlier -- that Hamid leave the Washington area, report periodically to a probation officer and write annually to keep Nunzio apprised of his activities.
Hamid was one of seven Hanafis who seized the Rhode Island Avenue NW headquarters building of B'nai B'rith, one of the nation's major Jewish service organizations, and took more than 120 hostages in March 1977. Five other Hanafis took over the District Building downtown and the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue NW, seizing several more hostages.
Hamid was convicted in July 1977 of eight counts of armed kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping while armed and assault with a dangerous weapon.
Hamid has been incarcerated at a federal prison in Lompoc, Calif., and under his original sentence would not have been eligible for parole until the year 2013.
Acting on a request by Hamid's attorney, Charles F. Stow III, Nunzio agreed last week that Hamid -- who had taken educational and vocational courses, corresponded with Nunzio and cooperated fully with prison authorities -- had been rehabilitated. Nunzio vacated the prison term he had imposed on Hamid in 1977, resentenced him to an identical term, then suspended the entire new sentence and placed Hamid on five years probation and other restrictions.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul L. Knight had objected in court to Nunzio's original reduction, arguing that the judge lacked authority to vacate Hamid's sentence in its entirety and add a probation period. Nunzio's action yesterday appears to have taken into technical account government prosecutors' objections to his previous decision.
Yesterday, Hamid's attorney once again asked Nunzio to reconsider the sentence and Nunzio agreed to drop the probation period. He formally vacated the sentence imposed last week and resentenced Hamid to a term of one-year-to-time-served on each of 10 counts. Since Hamid has already served three years, he is free and not bound to report to a probation officer or contact the judge regularly.
Hamid did not appear at the brief court hearing yesterday and could not be reached for comment.