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Lebanon charges Saudi prince over two tonne drug haul

Joseph Eid, AFP | Captagon pills are displayed along with a cup of cocaine at an office of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF), Anti-Narcotics Division in Beirut on June 11, 2010

Lebanese judicial authorities charged a Saudi prince and nine other people with drug smuggling via Beirut airport, and referred the case to an investigating judge, judicial sources and the National News Agency reported on Monday.

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The prince has been widely identified in Lebanese media and by security officials speaking anonymously as Abdulmohsen bin Walid bin Abdulmohsen bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Lebanese authorities detained five Saudi citizens at the airport last week after finding two tonnes of Captagon amphetamine pills bound for Saudi Arabia on a private jet, security sources and the NNA said, the biggest smuggling operation ever discovered at the airport.

On Monday the prince and four other people in custody were accused of the crime, the NNA cited Claude Karam, public prosecutor for the Mount Lebanon area, as saying. The charges were also levelled at five other people in absentia, he added.

When contacted by Reuters, Karam declined to name the prince, citing the secrecy of the ongoing investigation.

There has been no comment from Saudi authorities on the case. Nobody could be immediately reached at the Saudi embassy in Beirut.

Consumption of Captagon outside the Middle East is negligible, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said last year, but it is a significant drug in the Gulf. Lebanon and neighbouring Syria are conduit routes for the drug.

(REUTERS)

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