DUESSELDORF, WEST GERMANY, JAN. 26 -- Chancellery Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, head of Bonn's hostage crisis team and a top aide to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, testified today that threats to kill two West Germans kidnaped in Lebanon led Bonn to refuse a U.S. request to extradite a suspected hijacker.
It was the West German government's first public admission that it was intimidated into disregarding its extradition treaty with the United States because it feared for the lives of the hostages.
The testimony came in the trial of Abbas Ali Hamadei, charged with masterminding the kidnapings of Alfred Schmidt and Rudolf Cordes to stop the extradition of his jailed brother Mohammed Ali Hamadei and eventually force a swap of prisoners.
Schaeuble said: "We decided not to extradite after we weighed all the risks and decided that this would pose the lesser risk in light of threats to the hostages' lives.
"The threats influenced our decision."
Mohammed Ali Hamadei, arrested in West Germany a year ago, was sought by U.S. authorities for his alleged part in the 1985 hijacking of a U.S. airliner and the murder of a U.S. Navy diver who was a passenger.
But Bonn announced in June that he would be tried instead in West Germany for air piracy and murder. A date for that trial has yet to be set.