A Lebanese man accused of killing two Irish soldiers and wounding a third 34 years ago is to be deported from Michigan to face investigations into their murder.
Mahmoud Bazzi, a 71-year-old resident of Dearborn, Michigan, is to be sent back to Lebanon after he dropped his opposition during an immigration court hearing in Detroit.
Bazzi has now agreed to leave America voluntarily and has given up his right to appeal the decision after admitting that he used someone else’s passport when he entered the country fraudulently 21 years ago.
The Irish Times reports that US immigration authorities refused to say if he will eventually face charges in Lebanon related to the killings of two Irish soldiers and the wounding of a third there in 1980.
The report adds that the US government had two witnesses to the investigation on standby to testify in his deportation hearing but did not call on them.
The paper says Bazzi has not been charged in relation to the deaths of privates Derek Smallhorne and Tom Barrett or the wounding of Private John O’Mahony.
Former journalist Steve Hindy of Brooklyn and O’Mahony told the paper that the US authorities had contacted them recently and asked if they would testify against Bazzi. Both said yes, but were not called.
Bazzi’s attorney F. Fred Ajluni said the US has no jurisdiction over the 1980 shootings in Lebanon and added that the deal with the US government calls for Bazzi’s plane to avoid any stops in Europe on the way to Lebanon.
During the immigration court hearing Bazzi appeared on video from the St Clair County Jail.
He thanked Judge David Paruch and said he would take a US flag back to Lebanon with him.
Speaking through a translator he said: “I love this country. I learned a lot from my children about this country.”
Bazzi had claimed in interviews with the Detroit Free Press before his arrest that he is innocent of the 1980 shootings, though he confessed to them at the time on television.
He claimed he was forced to confess by a Lebanese military commander.