September 18, 2019 / 10:52 PM / 2 months ago

Lebanon court acquits one Australia bomb plot suspect - lawyer, NNA

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s military court has acquitted one of four brothers accused of planning to blow up a flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi nearly two years ago, his lawyer said on Thursday.

State news agency NNA said the Lebanese-Australian man, Amer Khayat, would be released from Lebanon’s Roumieh prison, where he has spent two years and two months.

His lawyer, Jocelyne al-Rai, said legal procedures for him to leave prison were being completed. “It took time for his innocence to be revealed,” she added.

The military court also sentenced three other Khayat brothers - Khaled, Mahmoud and Tareq - in absentia to hard labour for life, NNA said late on Wednesday.

In 2017, Australian police charged Khaled and Mahmoud Khayat with planning a terrorist attack after disrupting what authorities deemed to be an Islamic State-inspired plot to bomb an Etihad Airways flight.

The two were arrested after a series of raids in Sydney.

An Australian court in May found Khaled guilty of plotting to blow up the flight by hiding a bomb disguised as a meat mincer in the luggage of his brother Amer, who was unaware.

Lebanon’s police said in 2017 that one of the four brothers, Tareq, was an Islamic State commander in Syria.

The others, Khaled, Mahmoud and Amer, were all living in Australia but occasionally visited Lebanon. Amer had landed in Beirut in July 2017 on the day of the plot to smuggle the bomb onto the plane, Lebanon’s interior minister said at the time.

Reporting by Ellen Francis and Alaa Kanaan; Editing by Peter Cooney and Alex Richardson

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