Cyprus trial set for suspect in large ammonium nitrate haul

AP News
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Posted: Jun 19, 2015 9:19 AM

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A Lebanese-Canadian man arrested in connection with the seizure of 9 tons of a chemical that can be converted into an explosive will face terrorism charges when his trial begins later this month, Cyprus police said Friday.

The 26-year-old suspect was arrested last month after police discovered ammonium nitrate while raiding the Larnaca-area house where he was staying.

Police spokesman Charalambos Zachariou told The Associated Press the suspect will enter a plea June 29 to 16 charges, including participation in and providing support to a terrorist organization and possession of explosives. He said the charges relate to the man's activities in Cyprus as far back as 2012, 70 witnesses will testify for the prosecution, and the suspect faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The suspect's lawyer, Andreas Mathikolonis, said his client, who has not been named, continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Authorities are investigating the suspect's possible links to the anti-Israeli group Hezbollah.

Cyprus Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said authorities had put the house under surveillance for some time before the raid after receiving a tip-off.

In 2013, a Cypriot court sentenced a Swedish-Lebanese man who admitted he was a Hezbollah member to four years in prison after finding him guilty of helping to plan attacks on Israelis in Cyprus. No attacks were carried out.