BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Lebanese man linked to UN deaths to be deported

Mahmoud Bazzi, who the Irish government calls a suspect in the abduction, torture and killing of two Irish soldiers serving as United Nations peacekeepers in Lebanon 34 years ago, speaks at his home in Dearborn, Mich. (AP Photo/Detroit Free Press, Brian Kaufman, FILE)

DETROIT: A Lebanese man suspected in the deaths of two United Nations peacekeepers in 1980 has admitted that he entered the United States without proper documentation and agreed to return to Lebanon.

Mahmoud Bazzi, 71, wants to return to Lebanon through a route that does not take him through Europe, his attorney Karim Ajluni told an immigration court in Detroit Monday.

The Irish government suspects Bazzi in the deaths of two of its soldiers assigned to United Nations peacekeeping duties in Lebanon. Bazzi isn't charged with killing Derek Smallhorne and Thomas Barrett and insists he wasn't involved.

Frank Ledda, the government's lawyer in the immigration case, said Bazzi's deportation has nothing to do with those allegations.

The agreement was "simply designed to remove him from the United States," Ledda said.

Bazzi and his attorney wanted him to travel directly to Lebanon, but Ledda said "there is no direct route that we can travel by."

Ajluni said Bazzi didn't want to travel through Europe because of the Irish government's interest in him.

"We do not want any complications by any government officials or being stopped at an airport," Ajluni said. "His order is very clear. He should be deported to Lebanon."

Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the Associated Press that "the government hasn't agreed to avoid any specific territory."

It wasn't clear when Bazzi would leave the U.S., but deportations usually take about 30 days, Ajluni said. Homeland Security officials were holding him at the St. Clair County Jail. He was arrested in Dearborn in July.

Bazzi entered in 1994 and later gave false information in immigration proceedings that led officials to grant him permanent residence status in the U.S., according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"One of the agency's highest priorities is to ensure that our nation's immigration system is not exploited by those who seek to illegally gain refuge in the United States by concealing their past," said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations office in Detroit.

The U.S. government said Bazzi was not honest about how he entered the country when he received asylum, Ajluni said. The Detroit Free Press said he apparently entered the country on someone else's passport.

Immigration Judge David Paruch warned Bazzi - whose wife and three daughters will remain in the U.S. - that he would not be allowed to return for at least 10 years without permission from the U.S. government.

Bazzi told the judge that he asked his wife to pack an American flag among his belongings.

"I want the American flag with me," he said. "I moved to this country and I love this country."

Bazzi's daughter, Malak Bazzi, told reporters that he could face trial in Lebanon in the deaths of the Irish soldiers.

"There isn't really any evidence against him," she said. "My dad's always wanted to go back to Lebanon. I hope he just stays there and lives the rest of his life."

The AP left a message Monday seeking comment from Eamon Saunders, counselor for Justice and Home Affairs with the Embassy of Ireland in Washington.

Saunders told reporters at an earlier hearing that his country was "interested in" Bazzi's deportation.

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

A Lebanese man suspected in the deaths of two United Nations peacekeepers in 1980 has admitted that he entered the United States without proper documentation and agreed to return to Lebanon.

Ajluni said Bazzi didn't want to travel through Europe because of the Irish government's interest in him.

It wasn't clear when Bazzi would leave the U.S., but deportations usually take about 30 days, Ajluni said.

The U.S. government said Bazzi was not honest about how he entered the country when he received asylum, Ajluni said.

Immigration Judge David Paruch warned Bazzi -- whose wife and three daughters will remain in the U.S. -- that he would not be allowed to return for at least 10 years without permission from the U.S. government.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here