SAN FRANCISCO, July 31, (THEWILL) – As the trial of three Lebanese held for alleged terrorism offences in connection with the Hezbollah armoury busted in Kano continues at the Abuja High Court, the Federal Government closed its case on Wednesday as it tendered in evidence video of confessional statements by the accused.
The Lebanese – Mustapha Fawaz (49), Abdallah Thahini (48) and Talal Ahmad Roda (51) – are charged with their companies – Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park Resort.
The video evidence tendered in court by the prosecutor, contained in eight Digital Video Discs (DVD), admitted as exhibits by the court, contained recordings of all the interview sessions held with the accused persons by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Excerpts from the video evidence, tendered by a hooded witness, identified as DSS10, were shown in the open court.Although the accused persons, particularly Roda (who was arrested in the house) had denied knowledge of the existence of the bunker, clips from the video revealed where Roda admitted he was in charge of maintaining the bunker.
It also showed Fawaz (one of the owners of Amigo Supermarket) admitting making video recordings of aerial view of some strategic structures in Abuja from atop Sheraton Hotels. Fawaz added that he led one Issah, a non-Nigerian to locate the Israeli Embassy in Abuja.
The three accused persons also admitted undergoing training in the use of firearms, while in Lebanon.
As against the defence’s claim that the accused persons were compelled to volunteer statements, the video showed the accused persons in relaxed and conducive atmosphere during the interview sessions.In the video, Thahini and Roda were seen drinking tea in an office, while being interviewed. Fawaz was shown with a bottled water on a table close to him. He also looked unruffled.
Explaining the relevance of the video, the prosecutor, Simon Egede, said it corroborated the confessions made by the accused persons and the testimonies of all the other prosecution witnesses.
“The videos confirmed the unauthorised and illegal surveillance carried out by the first accused person (Fawaz) along with his foreign collaborators, where they captured different strategic buildings in Abuja, while perched atop of the Sheraton building.
“He (Fawaz) also confirmed carrying those foreign collaborators round Abuja, searching for the Israeli embassy.
“The video also confirmed that they have surveillance camera in Amigo supermarket where they captured their customers, especially foreigners and specifically, Israeli customers.
“The video also confirmed that the third accused person (Roda) was resident at 3 Gaya Road, Kano and was aware of the underground bunker and that he serviced these weapons and armoury from time to time.
“The video stated all these, so, this in a way has confirmed all that we stated in our count of charges and the statement of all our witnesses,” he stated.
But the lead defence lawyer, Robert Clarke, SAN, said the video had shown nothing new.
“What is contained in the video is exactly what is contained in the statement they have offered. So, there is nothing new in the video.
“They have not denied in the video that they had some training with Hezbollah. But these were things done in 1991, when they were young men.
“As resistant officers, they were bound to serve their country just like we have our National Youths Service Corps. So, they are not denying that they served in the Hezbollah 23 years ago. But that is not the issue before the court.
“So, there is nothing new in the video that is already not known in their evidence, there is nothing new,” he stated.
When the prosecution closed its case, the defence indicated its readiness to open its case as Clarke requested for two days, which Egede did not object to.
The presiding judge, Justice Ademola, therefore adjourned to August 2.