- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2005

ATLANTA (AP) — Eric Rudolph was sentenced yesterday to four life terms in prison, more than nine years after setting off the bomb that disrupted the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Victims and their relatives at yesterday’s sentencing hearing in federal court called Rudolph a cowardly terrorist.

“Like other small men who act as you have acted, you have a Napoleonic complex and need to compensate for what you lack,” said John Hawthorne, whose wife died in the Olympics bombing. “Little person, big bomb. But you are still a small man.”

Rudolph, 38, clean-shaven and gaunt, apologized for the Olympics bombing, saying he “would do anything to take that night back.”

The sentence handed down yesterday by U.S. District Judge Charles A. Pannell Jr. brings a close to a case that began with the Olympics bombing and included an exhaustive five-year manhunt for Rudolph, who was captured in North Carolina scavenging for food from a trash container.

He pleaded guilty earlier this year and was sentenced last month to life for the 1998 bombing of a women’s clinic in Alabama that killed a police officer and maimed a nurse. Yesterday’s hearing covered the Olympics blast, a bombing at a nightclub in Atlanta and another at an abortion clinic in suburban Sandy Springs, Ga., in 1997. One woman was killed and more than 100 people were injured by the bomb, which exploded during a crowded concert in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park on July 27, 1996.

Rudolph had faced a death sentence, but reached a plea deal with prosecutors in exchange for revealing the location of more than 250 pounds of stolen dynamite he had buried in North Carolina.

In court yesterday, 14 victims and relatives told of the horror he caused and their wishes that he suffer for the rest of his days. Many other victims did not attend, saying they have moved on with their lives and didn’t want to give Rudolph any more time.

Mr. Hawthorne spoke directly to Rudolph in court on what would have been his 18th wedding anniversary with Alice Hawthorne.

“Do you really expect the world of man to believe that innocent people had to die so you could make your voice heard?” Mr. Hawthorne asked. “Why, if your cause is just, are you not willing to die for it as so many others have done in the past for their cause? I know why. And I think you do, too.”

As in past statements, Rudolph said he detonated the bomb at the Olympics because he wanted to force the cancellation of the games and “confound, anger and embarrass” the federal government for sanctioning abortion. He said he had no intentions of hurting civilians.

His apology was only a partial one, and did not mention the 11 persons injured in the two other bombings.

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