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April 11, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
Turk Denies Plot to Bomb Base in Germany
Turkish Man Denies Plot to Attack U.S. Base in Germany As Couple's Trial Opens

The Associated Press


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HEIDELBERG, Germany April 11

A Turkish man on Friday denied plotting with his American girlfriend to bomb a U.S. military base, saying he is not anti-American and chemicals found in his home were for making firecrackers..

Osman Petmezci, 25, is accused of planning to attack the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Department or a store on the base here around the time of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Astrid Eyzaguirre, 23, is charged with aiding him.

Petmezci told the Heidelberg state court that the 2001 attacks "affected me just as much as if I were an American."

Prosecutor Joerg Richter insisted that the couple had "anti-American and anti-Israeli" views and a "glowing admiration for Osama bin Laden." He contended that they had been planning the attack since early 2002.

"I never made such plans, or talked about anything like that," said Petmezci, who could face up to 11 years and three months in prison if convicted. "It was never an issue."

Investigators found gunpowder and six pipes they believe were to be used to make a bomb, as well as other chemicals that could be used to make homemade explosives, at the couple's apartment in Walldorf, south of Heidelberg, in this southwestern cityfollowing their arrest last Sept. 5 on an FBI tip.

Petmezci, a German-born Turk, admitted having chemicals that could be used to make explosives at his home, but said they were to create firecrackers for New Year's Eve.

"That was my passion," Petmezci said of making firecrackers. "It's exciting to see how it works and how it goes bang."

Petmezci said he had stolen some of the chemicals from the Heidelberg factory where he worked. Eyzaguirre, who holds both U.S. and German citizenship, worked at a military store on the base, home to 16,000 civilians and troops.

German authorities say they believe the couple was acting alone, while prosecutors have ruled out any link with the al-Qaida cell based in Hamburg that included three of the hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Eyzaguirre initially was charged with plotting alongside Petmezci, but the court determined there was not sufficient evidence to support the indictment and reduced the charges to assisting him. It wasn't immediately clear whether she would testify.

A verdict is expected on May 6.


photo credit and caption:
25-year old Turkish Osman Petmezci, left, and his 23-year old American fiancee Astrid Eyzaguirre are seen on trial at the Heidelberg, southwestern Germany, regional court on Friday, April 11, 2003. They are charged with plotting an explosion at the U.S. base in the city of Heidelberg, home to the U.S. Army's European headquarters and a NATO facility Sept 5 last year. (AP Photo/Uli Deck, pool)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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