Italy releases Palestinian hijacker

Youssef al-Molqui served 24 years for 1985 murder of elderly US Jew during 'Achille Lauro' hijacking.

Achille Lauro 248 88 (photo credit: Courtesy [file])
Achille Lauro 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy [file])
One of the Palestinians who hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship and killed an American Jewish passenger in 1985 has been released after more than 23 years in jail, officials said Thursday. Youssef Magied al-Molqui left prison in Palermo, Sicily, on Wednesday and was transferred to a holding center for immigrants in nearby Trapani while officials work to expel him, police in the Sicilian capital said. Molqui, a member of the four-man team that hijacked the Achille Lauro off the Egyptian coast, had been serving a 30-year sentence, which was reduced for good behavior. He was convicted of shooting elderly New Yorker Leon Klinghoffer and ordering him to be dumped overboard. In 1996, Molqui disappeared during a furlough, but he was recaptured in Spain after three weeks on the run. Molqui's lawyer, Stella Cavallo, was quoted by the ANSA news agency as saying she would fight the expulsion order. She said her client had married an Italian woman and had no recognized citizenship, and therefore no country would take him in. No one answered the telephone at the lawyer's office on Thursday. Another convicted Achille Lauro hijacker, Ibrahim Fatayer Abdelatif, was released last year. Italian authorities have tried to expel him but his lawyers have appealed the decision, arguing he should be allowed to stay for humanitarian reasons because he, too, has no citizenship.