Source AP ©

Request to move German train bombing proceedings in Lebanon rejected

An appeals court rejected a request from one of four suspects in a failed German train bombing to move the proceedings closer to the suspects' homes in northern Lebanon.

The appeals court rejected the request presented last month by suspect Jihad Hamad's lawyer, and instead the court upheld a Beirut criminal court's decision to keep the trial, set to reconvene Tuesday, in Beirut, court officials said. The officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

At a hearing last month, the defense demanded that the trial be moved to the northern port city of Tripoli, arguing that the suspects' families couldn't afford travel expenses to Beirut, a two-hour drive away.

The request was rejected by the presiding Judge Michel Abou Arraj and the defense decided to appeal the ruling. Abou Arraj gave no reason for his decision to reject the defense's request.

However, court officials, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, have said security concerns, including the possibility of an attack to free the suspects, prompted authorities to hold the four in the country's main maximum security prison and to have the court sit in the Lebanese capital.

Along with Hamad, the three other suspects on trial and held in police custody are Ayman Hawa, Khalil al-Boubou and Khaled Khair-Eddin el-Hajdib.

Two other Lebanese suspects in the case are not in the country. Youssef el-Hajdib is under arrest in Germany, and his brother, Saddam, remains at large. Both are cousins of Khaled el-Hajdib.

Lebanese authorities arrested the suspects on charges for allegedly 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 suspects as they wheeled suitcases into the station.

Germany wants to extradite the men, 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.

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