JERUSALEM - The wife of one of 11 Israeli Olympians killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Games has disclosed new details of her husband's final moments, saying that his body was mutilated by his captors.
After years of remaining silent, Ilana Romano said Wednesday that photos she obtained from Germany in 1992 showed that the body of her husband, weightlifter Yossef Romano, known by his nickname, Yossi, was mutilated after he was shot while trying to resist the attackers. She said the Palestinian attackers had beaten other athletes and forced them to watch her husband die while refusing to allow doctors into the room.
"Some said the Palestinian terrorists were freedom fighters. Not only were they not freedom fighters, they were cruel," she said.
Before dawn Sept. 5, 1972, eight members of the Palestinian armed group Black September climbed over the unguarded fence of the Olympic village, burst into the building where the Israeli team was staying, and took the athletes and coaches hostage.
Five athletes, six coaches, and a West German policeman were killed at the village or during a rescue attempt. The Palestinian attackers had demanded the release of prisoners held by Israel and two German left-wing extremists in German jails.
Romano said that she and Ankie Spitzer, whose husband, Andre, a fencing coach, was also killed, petitioned the West German government in the years after for more details but were rebuffed.
She said she managed to obtain some German documents about the events from a person she said she could not identify to protect that person's privacy.
Faced with the evidence, German authorities eventually conceded they possessed information. In 1992, Ilana Romano's lawyer returned from Germany with photographs and documents, she said. The lawyer tried to persuade her not to look at the horrific images, but she insisted.
"I was shocked and traumatized when I saw them," she said. "Yossi was sprawled out on the floor and they were mutilating his body."
She declined to elaborate, saying it was too painful. The New York Times, which first reported details of the abuse this week, said the Palestinians had castrated him, apparently after he had died.
She said that after much agonizing, she decided with Spitzer to reveal the details so that "what happened in Munich in 1972 will never be forgotten."
For decades, the bereaved families have been petitioning the International Olympic Committee to commemorate the victims with a moment of silence during the opening ceremony, but their pleas have repeatedly been rejected.