UK & World News
US Deports Irish UN Soldiers' Murder Suspect
A Lebanese ice cream man suspected of killing two Irish soldiers who were serving with the UN 34 years ago is finally to be deported from the US.
Mahmoud Bazzi, 71, will be flown to Lebanon where he may stand trial for their kidnap, torture and murders while serving with a Christian militia.
Privates Derek Smallhorne and Thomas Barrett were on duty with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) near the Israeli border on April 18, 1980 when they were captured.
They were in a convoy that was stopped by the South Lebanese Army (SLA) which controlled the war-torn region at the time.
Twelve days earlier, clashes between the SLA and Dutch and Irish soldiers serving with the UN left an Irish man and a militia man dead.
The SLA had vowed to avenge the killing.
Private Barrett, 30, from Cork, and Private Smallhorne, 31, from Dublin, were last seen alive in the back of a car driven by SLA militia as it sped off after the troops were confronted and involved in a gun fight.
Their families have appealed to Irish governments to pressurise US authorities to act against Bazzi for years.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment on the murder case or whether Bazzi will be charged on his arrival in Lebanon.
But a spokesman said the "allegations of what happened in Lebanon factor heavily in our investigation and our efforts to remove him".
Bazzi was arrested last month in Dearborn, outside Detroit, Michigan, where he was earning a living driving an ice cream van.
At a hearing in an immigration court on Monday, he admitted entering the US in 1994 without proper documentation and lying to authorities to obtain lawful immigration status.
No date for his deportation has been confirmed.
Bazzi was originally traced to the Detroit area by an RTE Prime Time investigation 14 years ago.