Lebanese man who possessedbomb parts convicted

Published: 4:02 AM, September 19, 2013
Updated: 11:00 PM, September 19, 2013

BANGKOK — A Thai court yesterday convicted a Lebanese man, with alleged links to Hezbollah militants, for illegal possession of bomb-making materials that he was storing in a warehouse outside Bangkok.

Atris Hussein, who also holds Swedish nationality, was arrested on Jan 12 last year at Bangkok’s main airport after a tip-off from Israeli police, who claimed he was going to stage a terrorist attack in Thailand.

After being questioned, Hussein led the police to a warehouse with hundreds of boxes containing more than 2,800 kilograms of liquid ammonium nitrate and 4,000 kilograms of urea fertiliser, both of which can be used to make explosives.

The court convicted and sentenced Hussein to two years and eight months in prison for illegal possession of the ammonium nitrate, which is a banned substance under Thailand’s Weapons Act.

It did not convict him for possession of the fertiliser, which is not an illegal substance.

Hussein will serve about one more year of the term due to time already spent behind bars. After the verdict, the 49-year-old told reporters he was happy with the ruling. His lawyer said they plan to appeal.

Hussein has claimed innocence in the case and denies any links to Hezbollah. He has said he was probably framed by Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

In an interview last year with a Swedish newspaper, he said he was involved in a business that exported a variety of goods from Thailand to other countries, including Lebanon. The products included fans, copy machine paper and frozen gel packs used for pain relief, he said.

“There is ammonium in these packs. That’s all there is to it. We never traded with fertiliser. It must have been placed there by someone, probably Mossad,” he told Aftonbladet newspaper.

In its verdict, the court said Hussein’s claims “did not hold weight” because he showed no proof of any trading transactions that a normal business would have.

The police have said his case is not related to a botched bomb plot in Bangkok in February last year involving Iranian suspects, when five people were wounded by a series of explosions.