Beirut trial over German train bomb delayed

18th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

18 April 2007, Beirut (dpa) - The trial of four Lebanese nationals accused of attempting to bomb trains in Germany in July of last year was adjourned Wednesday until May 10, after the defence team moved to appeal to another court. Judge Michel Abu Arraj of the Beirut criminal court during the 20-minute hearing rejected a request by the four-member defence team to have the trial moved from Beirut to the northern port city of Tripoli. The judge however agreed to adjourn the trial until May 10 after the defen

18 April 2007

Beirut (dpa) - The trial of four Lebanese nationals accused of attempting to bomb trains in Germany in July of last year was adjourned Wednesday until May 10, after the defence team moved to appeal to another court.

Judge Michel Abu Arraj of the Beirut criminal court during the 20-minute hearing rejected a request by the four-member defence team to have the trial moved from Beirut to the northern port city of Tripoli.

The judge however agreed to adjourn the trial until May 10 after the defence said they intended to submit an appeal not to the criminal court but to the court of cassation.

The four main suspects are Jihad Hamad, Khaled al-Hajj Dib, Ayman Hawwa and Khalil Bubu. They face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

"The Beirut criminal court is not entitled to try the four suspects in Beirut because they were arrested in - and are all from - northern Lebanon. So their trial should be in the northern port city of Tripoli," defence lawyer Fawaz Zakariyeh earlier told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

According to a judicial source the defence team are working to secure a decreased sentence for Hamad, because "he has granted information to the German investigators which helped them in their efforts to find the network behind the plot."

"The aim of the defence is to change the Beirut court to Tripoli and the judge as well, because Abu Arraj is known for giving high and harsh sentences," the source added.

The trial had originally opened April 11 when after a hearing only eight minutes in length it was adjourned to April 18.

The four accused on Wednesday appeared relaxed and smiled at family members present as they appeared in front of the court.

Prime suspect Hamad, dressed in a grey sweatshirt and black trousers, gazed at the ground as press photographers took pictures of the accused prior to the start of proceedings.

Co-accused Bubu was dressed in traditional Arab garb and looked straight at the cameras and smiled, the only one of the four suspects to do so.

The judge then asked all photographers to leave the court, but allowed reporters remain to cover the session.

Judge Arraj will be also trying Youssef Mohammed al-Hajj Dib, arrested in Germany last August on similar charges, and his brother Saddam, still at large, in absentia.

Hamad confessed under judicial interrogation in March to having placed a suitcase containing explosives on a train in Germany in July last year.

The bomb had been planted on a train from Aachen to Hamm, while another bomb was planted in a train heading from Moenchengladbach to Koblenz.

Hamad was quoted during his interrogation as saying that his intentions had not been to kill people, "but to avenge any harm done to Muslims after the publication in Denmark of cartoons that were harmful to the Prophet Mohammed."

German federal police said the publication of the cartoons in Western and some Arab media had been the factor which pushed the alleged terrorists to organize a plot to bomb German trains last July 31.

The plan failed when the bombs concealed on the two regional trains did not explode because of faulty detonators.

Al-Hajj Dib and Hamad, the two main suspects, were said by Lebanese security sources to have been influenced by the late al-Qaeda chief in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

DPA

Subject: German news

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