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Commission: Mossad Acted Alone

March 2, 2000 GMT

OSLO, Norway (AP) _ A national commission concluded Wednesday that Israel’s intelligence service acted without Norwegian help in a botched 1973 assassination in the small town of Lillehammer.

Norwegians have long speculated about involvement by their own police or intelligence service in the controversial killing, which has been shrouded in secrecy for almost three decades. Israel has refused to take responsibility.

On July 21, 1973, a team of hit men shot and killed Moroccan waiter Ahmed Bouchikhi as he walked home from the movies with his pregnant wife in Lillehammer, 110 miles north of Oslo. The attackers apparently mistook Bouchikhi for Hassan Salameh, a PLO intelligence chief suspected of masterminding the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

``This was much more than a murder,″ said Gullow Gjeseth, a retired Norwegian general and head of the six-member government commission. ``This was a violation of Norwegian sovereignty. It is a completely special case.″

The commission said in its 179-page report that it found no evidence of Norwegian involvement during a two-year investigation that included reviews of previously classified material and interviews.

Five suspected agents were jailed in Norway for the killing, which has been a sore point in otherwise warm relations between Norway and Israel and has given rise to years of speculation about who was involved.

In January 1996, Israel paid undisclosed compensation to Bouchikhi’s family, without admitting blame.

``No one pays out compensation unless they are guilty,″ Torill Larsen Bouchiki, the widow of the murdered waiter, said Wednesday.

Shortly after the murder, five suspected agents were convicted and imprisoned in Norway in the case. They were later pardoned.

About nine others escaped Norway, the report said.

Norway reopened the case in 1990. In 1998, it issued a global arrest warrant for Harari, but closed the case the next year, saying it would be impossible to get a conviction.