Suspect Arrested in 1985 Hijacking That Killed American Sailor


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ATHENS — The Greek police say they have arrested a suspect in the 1985 hijacking of a flight from Athens that became a multiday ordeal in which an American sailor was killed and dozens of Americans were held hostage.

A 65-year-old suspect was being held in the hijacking and a 1987 abduction, the police said Saturday. They did not release the name of the suspect, who they said was arrested on the island of Mykonos on Thursday.

The hijacking involved TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Rome, which was commandeered shortly after takeoff on June 14, 1985, according to a police spokesman, Lt. Col. Theodoros Chronopoulos.

The two hijackers seized the jetliner and had its crew fly between Beirut and Algiers. The hijackers killed a 23-year-old Navy diver, Robert Dean Stethem, and released the other 146 passengers and crew members in stages, the last after 17 days.

Mr. Stethem was a Seabee, a member of the Naval Construction Battalions responsible for building wartime infrastructure. Both of his parents and two brothers served in the Navy as well, according to the Southern Maryland Newspapers.

At the trial of one of the suspects in 1988, former hostages described the ordeal, saying Mr. Stethem was viciously beaten and shot to death. An article in The New York Times quoted an Australian passenger as saying that Mr. Stethem had said that if anyone had to be killed, he hoped it would be him, because he was still single.

The defendant in that trial in Germany, Mohammed Ali Hamadei, served a 19-year term and was released in 2005, according to The move prompted severe criticism from the United States, where he remains wanted for his role in the 1985 hijacking.

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