Iranian held over Marseille heavy weapons cache

24th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, May 23 (AFP) - An Iranian national, detained in southern France after police uncovered a cache of weapons, explosives and burglary equipment in a cellar, was placed under investigation on Sunday, court sources said.

MARSEILLE, France, May 23 (AFP) - An Iranian national, detained in southern France after police uncovered a cache of weapons, explosives and burglary equipment in a cellar, was placed under investigation on Sunday, court sources said.

Hossein Ghanbari, 47, who owns the cellar but insists he had not set foot there in five years, was arrested in the southern city of Marseille on Friday.

Ghanbari faces charges of criminal conspiracy, possession of weapons and ammunition and illegitimate possession of explosives, the sources said. A judge was to decide later Sunday whether to place him in detention.

Police have said their investigation would likely focus on the arms cache being used by "professional armed robbers", as opposed to terrorists.

The find included six kilograms (13 pounds) of explosives, an assault rifle, five handguns, several grenades and a stock of ammunition.

Among other equipment found, described by police as "a top-flight burglary kit", were ski masks, fake identity papers, handcuffs, rotating police lights, mobile telephones with their SIM cards, and maps of Spain.

Documents found in the cache and translated from Farsi contained no extremist religious element and were in fact private papers dating from the 1980s and 90s.

The Iranian mason was known to French police intelligence in the 1980s, but not for any links to terrorism.

Police said a file was opened on Ghanbari while he was studying computing and chemistry for being a supporter of Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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