Source AP ©

Trial of four Lebanese men participating in a failed train bombing adjourned

A Beirut court adjourned for one week the trial of four Lebanese men accused of participating in a failed train bombing in Germany.

Meanwhile, Lebanon's top military magistrate Rashid Mezher issued formal arrest warrants Wednesday for 14 people suspected of belonging to al-Qaida.

The four train bombing suspects appeared before Judge Michel Abu Arraj for just 10 minutes before the hearing was adjourned until April 18 at the request of the suspects' defense attorney.

Court officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the attorney asked to move the trial from Beirut to northern Lebanon, arguing that the suspects' families couldn't afford transportation to Beirut for the trial.

It was not immediately known if the court would meet the request of the defense attorney, whose name was not released by the court.

Lebanese authorities arrested the suspects on charges of planting crude bombs on two trains at the Cologne station on July 31. The bombs, found later in the day on trains at the Koblenz and Dortmund stations, failed to explode because of faulty detonators.

German surveillance cameras are said to have filmed the suspects as they wheeled suitcases into the station.

The suspects include Jihad Hamad, Ayman Hawa, Khalil al-Boubou and Khaled Khair-Eddin el-Hajdib, whose brother Youssef is under arrest in Germany in connection with the case.

Last month, Hamad, 19, confessed to planting one of the bombs. During preliminary interrogation by Judge Abu Arraj, Hamad said he was trying to avenge the publication of 12 cartoons that satirized the Prophet Muhammad.

The drawings, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September 2005 and were republished in other European papers, sparked outrage across the Muslim world, where many consider images of the prophet to be blasphemy.

Hamad, who is from the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, told the judge that his aim was not to kill, but to defend Islam, according to court officials.

The head of Germany's Federal Crime Office, Joerg Ziercke, has said that the train-bomb suspects were also motivated by the June 7 killing of the former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in a U.S. airstrike.

Germany wants to extradite the suspects, but there is no extradition treaty between Germany and Lebanon. Lebanon has decided to try the suspects in its courts and defer consideration of extradition until later.

Also on Wednesday, arrest warrants were issued for 14 suspected al-Qaida membersnine Lebanese, a Saudi, a Syrian and a Palestinian held in police custody for more than a month, and two Lebanese at large _ accused of carrying out terrorist acts, attacking people and weakening state authority, court officials said.