Israel ‘attack plot’ suspect to stand trial in Cyprus
NICOSIA, July 27 — A Swedish national of Lebanese descent arrested in Cyprus on suspicion of plotting to attack Israeli tourists in the country will stand trial on September 12, authorities said today.
The man, who has not been identified, faces nine charges of security-related offences related to tracking the movements and areas frequented by Israeli visitors to the holiday island. He was arrested on July 7 as a suspected security threat.
Israel has said the man was planning an attack similar to a suicide bus bombing in the Bulgarian city of Burgas on July 18 that killed seven people, five of them Israelis. The Jewish state has blamed the attack on Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim militant group Hezbollah, and Iran, which has denied any involvement.
Cypriot authorities have acknowledged the suspect showed behavioural patterns similar to the incident in Burgas, in which the attacker waited for Israeli holidaymakers to board a bus at an airport before detonating a backpack of explosives.
During court hearings held behind closed doors, police have maintained the Cyprus suspect is a member of Hezbollah. The group is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and other countries, but not by Cyprus.
The suspect was detained two days after his arrival to Cyprus via London, following a tip-off from British intelligence services. In his fourth court appearance since his detention, a district court in the southern coastal city of Limassol on Friday ruled the man would remain in custody until his trial in September, the semi-official Cyprus News Agency reported.
At that hearing, before a criminal court, he will be formally charged and enter a plea.
Israel is less than an hour by air away from Cyprus and thousands of Israelis visit each year. It is also a popular destination for couples getting married. — Reuters pic