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'Hezbollah' plotters face trial in Egypt court

CAIRO -- Twenty-six men accused of plotting attacks on Egyptian tourist resorts and ships in the Suez Canal on behalf of Lebanon's Hezbollah are to be tried in a security court, the public prosecutor said on Sunday.

They are charged with conspiracy to murder, spying for a foreign organisation with the intent of conducting terrorist attacks, and weapons possession, prosecutor Abdel Magid Mohammed said in a statement.

Four of the accused men, including Lebanese alleged mastermind Mohammed Qubyan, are on the run. Qubyan is believed to have left the country and the others are hiding in the Sinai Peninsula's mountains, security officials say.

The prosecutor said in April that 49 men were suspected of plotting attacks against Sinai tourist resorts and ships passing through the Suez Canal on the orders of the militant Shiite group Hezbollah.

The suspects include two Lebanese alleged Hezbollah ringleaders, five Palestinians, a Sudanese man and Egyptians.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah admitted in April that one of the captured men, Mohammed Yusef Mansur, identified as Sami Shihab, was a Hezbollah agent tasked with smuggling weapons to militants in Gaza.

The arrests led to a war of words between Sunni Egypt and Hezbollah's Shiite Iranian backers, with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit accusing Iran of using Hezbollah to gain a foothold in Egypt and wanting to turn Egypt into its "handmaiden."

State security courts set up under Egypt's emergency laws, in place since 1981, have no right of appeal.

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