Twenty-six men charged with plotting attacks on tourist sites and ships in the Suez Canal for Lebanon's Hezbollah will go on trial in an Egyptian court on Sunday. Two Lebanese, five Palestinians and 19 Egyptians are among the accused.
AFP - Twenty-six men accused of plotting attacks on behalf of Lebanon's Hezbollah group on tourist resorts and on ships in the Suez Canal will go on trial in an Egyptian security court on Sunday.
The suspects -- two Lebanese, five Palestinians and 19 Egyptians -- face charges of "conspiracy to murder, spying for a foreign organisation with the intent of conducting terrorist attacks and weapons possession."
Four more accused are on the run and will be tried in absentia, including Lebanese alleged mastermind Mohammed Qublan who is believed to have left Egypt.
Defence lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud told AFP that some of the defendants had confessed to planning attacks against Israelis.
"Those whose names appear on the list, including number two suspect Lebanese Mohammed Yusuf Ahmed Mansur known as Sami Shihab, told prosecutors during questioning that they initially planned attacks against Israeli tourists in Sinai in response to the killing of (Hezbollah leader) Imad Mughniyeh, but that orders came from Hezbollah leadership banning such activities," he said.
Mughniyeh, a Hezbollah commander, was killed by a car bombing in Damascus in a February 2008 attack that was blamed on but denied by Israel.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah admitted in April that Shihab was a Hezbollah agent tasked with smuggling weapons to militants into the Gaza Strip.
The arrests led to a war of words between Sunni Egypt and Hezbollah's Shiite Iranian backers, with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit accusing Iran of using Hezbollah to gain a foothold in Egypt.
The defendants said that their main goal was to help Palestinians in Gaza, Maqsud said.
Egyptian security forces had said that five of the accused in what is being called the "Hezbollah cell case" belonged to the banned Muslim Brotherhood but that they had left the organisation in recent years.
In an interview aired on Monday by the US television network CBS, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak claimed that the Brotherhood had contacts with the Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas.
"They have contacts with Hamas. They have contacts with Hezbollah. These are well-known and they have contacts with many organisations," he said, but added: "As long as they do not commit any terrorist crimes, I don't care."
Hezbollah, a formidable guerrilla group and political party formed after Israel occupied Lebanon in 1982, has limited its attacks in the Middle East to Israel and Lebanon, from which Israel withdrew in 2000.
Israel and Hezbollah fought a 33-day war in the summer of 2006 that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 Lebanese civilians, a third of them children, as well as 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
State security courts were set up under Egypt's emergency laws which have been in place since 1981. Their verdicts are final.
Date created : 2009-08-23