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Minister for Defence Mr. Simon Coveney T.D., welcomes the detention in Lebanon of the alleged perpetrator of the murder of two Irish soldiers

The Minister for Defence, Mr. Simon Coveney T.D., this evening welcomed the arrest and detention in Beirut by the Lebanese authorities of the alleged perpetrator of the murder of two Irish soldiers in Lebanon in 1980.

Mr. Mahmoud Bazzi, who is the alleged perpetrator of the murder of Privates Thomas Barrett and Derek Smallhorne and the attempted murder of Private John O’Mahony, Irish peacekeepers deployed with UNIFIL, was returned to his native Lebanon this evening, following deportation from the United States. Removal proceedings were undertaken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Speaking after receiving the news, the Minister said “I believe that this is a significant step in the pursuit of justice for Privates Thomas Barrett and Derek Smallhorne who lost their lives while on United Nations peacekeeping duty in Lebanon almost 35 years ago. It is an important day for the families and I wish to commend them for their continued commitment to securing justice for their loved ones.”

Acknowledging that the Lebanese authorities have primary jurisdiction in terms of pursuing a prosecution against the alleged perpetrator, the Minister welcomed the actions of the US authorities and the Lebanese authorities in bringing the case to this stage. “Obviously it is now a matter for the Lebanese authorities to investigate the case and it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on a case under investigation. That said, today’s development is very positive one. I would like to assure the families that I and the Irish Government stand ready to provide whatever assistance possible to the Lebanese authorities in progressing this issue”, the Minister said.

Note for editor

[On the 18th of April, 1980, Private Thomas Barrett and Private Derek Smallhorne were murdered and one soldier, Private John O’Mahony was seriously injured in the same incident in Lebanon. The personnel were serving as peacekeepers with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). At the village of At-Tiri, a convoy, which included the three Irish soldiers, was stopped and all the personnel were taken prisoner by de-facto forces. The Defence Forces personnel were disarmed and separated from the rest of the group. Private O’Mahony was shot and seriously injured while Privates Barrett and Smallhorne were murdered.]


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