In Cyprus on Friday (17 March) the trial of two Arabs accused of murdering Egyptian newspaper editor Youssef Sibai continued with evidence being given by the pilot of the hostage airliner.
LV & CU Nicosia District Court and sign (2 shots)
SV Court officials walking past barbed wire barricades
CU PAN Airline captain Mr. Samuel Melling arrives
SV Armoured van and escort arrive
SV Two prisoners out of van and into courthouse
Mr. Sibai was the editor of the semi-official Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram, and a close fiend of the Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat. He was shot dead at he Hilton Hotel in Nicosia on 18 February.
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Background: In Cyprus on Friday (17 March) the trial of two Arabs accused of murdering Egyptian newspaper editor Youssef Sibai continued with evidence being given by the pilot of the hostage airliner. The aircraft was commandeered by the two Arabs after the killing, took off with 11 passengers and four crew as hostages, butt returned to Cyprus after failing to find refuge in the Middle East. An airport battle then followed between Egyptian commandos, sent in to end the siege, and Cypriot National Guards. Fifteen Egyptian commands were killed and the two Arabs captured. They have been named as Samir Mohammed Khadar, a 28-year-old Jordanian, and 26-year-old Zayed Hussein Al-Ali, who holds a Kuwait passport.
SYNOPSIS: Now the two are on rial here, at the District Court in Nicosia. The security precautions are heavy, with armed police patrolling surrounding streets and the courthouse itself sealed off by barbed wire barricades.
Friday's proceedings were dominated by evidence from Captain Samuel Melling. His Cyprus Airways jet was commandeered by the two Arab gunmen. He told the court the hostage passengers and crew were saved when Cypriot soldiers fired at the Egyptian commandos.
The two accused arrived at the court in an armoured van, and under a heavily-armed escort. Both face the death penalty if found guilty of the charge of premeditated murder.
The trial was not due to start until May, but a special court session was arranged and opened en days ago (9 March). With the trial underway, Egypt and Cyprus are trying to re-establish diplomatic relations broken after the airport battle.