Four black United States citizens, once members of the revolutionary Black Panther movement, went on trial in Pars on Monday (20 November) charged with hijacking an airliner from the United States to Algeria in 1972.
GV Court house in Paris advocate entering gates
LV Accused Black Panthers in police van with escort
GV Airport in Algiers DC-8 hijacked on tarmac (August 1972) (2 shots)
GV & CU EXTERIOR Black Panther building and plaque, Algiers (1972) (2 shots)
SV & CU Mrs. Female hijacker and children (2 shots)
SV & CU Mrs. Jean McNair reading hijackers' letter while surrounded by colleagues
SV & CU Mrs. McNair continues reading over shots of male hijacker including those now currently on trial in France (6 shots)
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Background: Four black United States citizens, once members of the revolutionary Black Panther movement, went on trial in Pars on Monday (20 November) charged with hijacking an airliner from the United States to Algeria in 1972. They are accused of hijacking a DC-8 that was flying from Detroit to Miami in July 1972 and obtaining one million dollars (500 thousand pounds) ransom for the release of 101 passengers. They were give asylum in Algeria but were arrested two years ago after entering France illegally and living under false names.
SYNOPSIS: When the court proceedings began in Paris on Monday (20 November), the trial of the four former Black Panthers was expected to last a week. It has aroused strong feelings in France, with 150 people including a Nobel prizewinning physicist calling for asylum for the accused.
August the first, 1972, and the hijacked DC-8 had landed at Algiers. The passengers had already been exchanged for one million dollars, and the hijackers were allowed to live in exile in Algeria.
The hijackers included women and children, and they issued a statement soon after arriving in Algiers. It was read by one of the women now on trial in Paris, Mr. Jean McNair. Her husband Melvin George Brown and Joyce Tillerson said they hijacked the airliner to protest against racism and the Vietnam war. After falling out with other Panthers ten months after they arrived in Algeria, the accused moved to France.
Jean McNair said they had chosen Algeria as a country of refuge, because of what she called "its reputation as a revolutionary country, and a keen and firm supporter of repressed and fighting people everywhere." She pleaded with the Algerians to return the one million dollar ransom they had confiscated. She said they were proud of what they had done because it struck a blow for the liberation of black people in the United States, and they did not consider themselves criminals. France claims the right to try the hijackers and has refused overtures from the United States asking for their extradition. According to their supporters those on trial have said they now regret the hijacking, saying that it has damaged the cause of Black people in the United States.