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European Court rejects convicted Hezbollah member’s application against Cyprus 

May 24, 2019 at 3:49pm
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The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed as “manifestly ill-founded” an application against Cyprus, lodged by a Swedish national who was convicted in 2013, after admitting that he was a member of Hezbollah. The applicant alleged, among others, that he had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment by the Cyprus authorities.

Hossam Yaacoub was arrested on July 7, 2012, in a hotel room, in the southern coastal city of Limassol, on the basis of intelligence that he was in possession of explosives and that he was planning terrorist attacks against Israeli and other foreign targets in Cyprus.

The police seized, inter alia, a handwritten note and a red notebook. The note contained a reference to a scheduled flight of an Israeli air carrier from Tel Aviv to Larnaca, numbers and the names of two hotels. The notebook contained a map with a point circled in ink.

According to the European Court, on July 13, 2012, Yaacoub admitted during questioning that he was a member of Hezbollah and that he visited Cyprus four times. He explained the meaning of the red notebook and his notes, as well as the connection between the words he had written and the numbers of the buses carrying passengers of the Israeli air carrier.

On March 21, 2013 the Assize Court found the applicant guilty on five of the eight counts in the indictment, namely two counts of participating in a criminal organisation, two counts of participating in a criminal organisation which he ought reasonably to have known was connected to the commission of crimes, and one count of money laundering.

The court found that Hezbollah fell within the description of a “criminal organisation” as set out in the Criminal Code.

On March 28, 2013, the Assize Court imposed concurrent sentences of four years’ imprisonment for counts four and five of the indictment (participation in a criminal organisation, which the applicant ought to have reasonably known was connected to the commission of crimes).

The applicant appealed against his conviction to the Supreme Court in April 2013, which dismissed his appeal. In November 2014 Yaacoub was released after having served two years and five months of his sentence.

In his application to the ECHR, Yaacoub complained that he had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, noting that some of the six contested statements, which had been preceded by interrogations, had been taken at night. Those interrogations and the ensuing taking of statements had been excessively long, strenuous and oppressive and in the course of them he had not been allowed to rest or sleep, he alleged.

Moreover, the applicant complained that he had given six contested statements involuntarily. In the interrogation that had preceded them, no record of the questions and answers had been kept, and he had not been advised of his rights, he added.

The Court concluded that the application was manifestly ill-founded and should be rejected, and unanimously declared the application inadmissible.

(Cyprus News Agency)