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
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.
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.
|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)|
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