UNITED STATES

Suspect in murder of Irish soldiers in Lebanon arrested in Detroit

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 July, 2014, 10:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 July, 2014, 11:19pm
AP

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American agents have arrested a man the Irish government calls a suspect in the abduction, torture and killing of two Irish soldiers serving as United Nations peacekeepers in Lebanon 34 years ago.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement last Tuesday detained Mahmoud Bazzi, 71, at his home in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit, Michigan.

The agency arrested Bazzi, an ice cream man, for "administrative immigration violations" and not directly in connection with the killings in Lebanon, spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said.

While not specifically citing the accusations against Bazzi in his native Lebanon, Christensen said the Department of Homeland Security "is committed to rooting out alleged human rights violators who seek a safe haven in the United States".

Before his arrest, Bazzi denied killing Derek Smallhorne and Thomas Barrett, telling the Detroit Free Press he once falsely confessed to the murders because he feared a Lebanese militia would kill him unless he lied.

Irish Defence Minister Simon Coveney welcomed Bazzi's arrest and said Ireland had continually pursued the case with Lebanese and US authorities over the years.