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Alleged perpetrator of the murder of Irish UN peacekeepers, Privates Thomas Barrett and Derek Smallhorne, and the attempted murder of Private John O’Mahony, stands trial at the Military Tribunal in Lebanon

The Minister for Defence, Mr Simon Coveney today welcomed the commencement of the trial of Mr. Mahmoud Bazzi before the Military Tribunal, in Beirut, Lebanon. At the opening session this morning, Mahmoud Bazzi was charged with the murder of Privates Thomas Barrett and Derek Smallhorne and the attempted murder of Private John O’Mahony on 18 April 1980 while they were serving with UNIFIL. Following initial exchanges, the President of the Military Tribunal, adjourned the Session to 25 November, 2015.

Speaking today, the Minister said “Today’s development is a welcome one and another important step towards the pursuit of justice for Privates Thomas Barrett and Derek Smallhorne who lost their lives tragically while on United Nations peacekeeping duty in Lebanon almost 35 years ago. Our thoughts are with their families and friends at this difficult time.” The Minister went on to say “the Lebanese Authorities have primary jurisdiction in terms of pursuing a prosecution against the alleged perpetrator. I would, however, like to assure the families that I and the Irish Government will continue to provide whatever assistance possible to the Lebanese authorities in progressing this important matter and ensure justice for the families. We are monitoring this case closely and will continue to do so.”

Mahmoud Bazzi was returned to his native Lebanon on 30 January 2015, following his deportation from the United States. Lebanese authorities arrested Mahmoud Bazzi upon his arrival at Rafic Hariri International Airport, Beirut from Detroit on 30 January 2015. Mr Bazzi has remained in detention in Beirut since his arrest and will continue to do so.

Note to 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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