Frenchman accused of smuggling guns from Gaza to West Bank ‘tricked’

Romain Franck appears in court in Beersheba in march, to face charges of smuggling guns from Gaza. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Frenchman accused of smuggling guns from Gaza to West Bank ‘tricked’

BEERSHEBA, Israel: A Frenchman formerly employed by his country’s Jerusalem consulate and accused by Israel of smuggling guns between the Palestinian territories will argue he was “tricked,” his lawyer said Wednesday.
Romain Franck, who worked as a driver for the consulate, is standing trial for exploiting reduced security checks for diplomats to transport 70 pistols and two automatic rifles from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Shin Bet internal security agency said Franck, who was arrested in February, was motivated by money in the five instances he smuggled guns for a network involving several Palestinians.
Speaking after a hearing at the district court in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, Franck’s lawyer Kenneth Mann stressed that his client’s actions were not those of an ideologue seeking to empower Palestinian militants in their battle with Israel.
Mann said his client had been “tricked” by his alleged Palestinian accomplices.
“He was scared, he is young and inexperienced,” Mann told reporters.
“He has no ideological or political involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The Shin Bet said Franck had been paid a total of around $5,500 for his efforts.
Israeli officials have stressed he acted on his own without the consulate’s knowledge, adding that diplomatic relations with France were not affected.
The Wednesday hearing was limited to procedural discussions. Franck attended but said nothing.


Dead body business attracts medics, drug dealers in Egypt

Egyptian Christians stand outside St. Markos Church in Minya, south of Cairo, Egypt, in this Jan. 6, 2015 file photo. (AP)
Updated 23 July 2019
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Dead body business attracts medics, drug dealers in Egypt

  • Some of the gravediggers remove tissues and grease from the bones by boiling them to remove their odor before selling them to students

CAIRO: The Egyptian Orthodox Church has issued a statement condemning the theft of the body of the Patriarch Gerges, son of priest Ibrahim Al-Basit, from his family’s burial place in the Minya governorate.
Last Saturday, the cemetery was opened and Al-Basit’s body was stolen. The crime of stealing the bodies of the dead has recently spread across Egypt, especially while the sanctity of the body remains preserved. It is also common for the remains to be collected two years after the burial.
Last October, a gang was arrested after stealing bodies from their graves. An investigation has revealed that the main defendant sold the bodies to medical students for practical learning.
Some of the gravediggers remove tissues and grease from the bones by boiling them to remove their odor before selling them to students.
The investigation found that the defendant had put a price on various limbs. The leg and the arm were priced at 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($180), the skull cost 5,000 pounds and the whole body was worth 20,000 pounds.
Ashraf Farahat, a legal expert and lawyer, said that Egyptian law demands up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of 100-500 pounds for criminals who violate the sanctity of graves.
Yasser Sayed Ahmed, a legal expert and lawyer, said he knew of many cases where cemetery guards and assistants help people access graves for superstitious reasons in exchange for large sums of money.
The majority of these cases are happening with the help of the guards of the tombs. They exhume graves at night to extract the bodies and separate the organs to sell bones and skulls. They often sell them to drug dealers by grinding and mixing some materials for sale at high prices.