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Swede denies links to Hezbollah in Thai trial

A Swedish citizen of Lebanese origin on Tuesday denied links to the Hezbollah movement during his trial on charges of breaking Thailand's weapons laws.

Swede denies links to Hezbollah in Thai trial

Atris Hussein, 48, was arrested in Bangkok in January last year and police later found chemicals that can be used to make a bomb at an address he rented.

According to the charges, Hussein and some unidentified accomplices had packed more than six tonnes of ammonium nitrate into bags.

In March Thai authorities alleged Atris had connections to Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite Muslim group that is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Washington.

Giving testimony for the first time Atris – who was handed Swedish citizenship after claiming asylum – denied the charges and links to Hezbollah.

“I know Hezbollah in general,” he told a court.

“But I don’t have any relation – either directly or indirectly – with the group,” he said, adding the movement is widely known in Lebanon and is part of the government.

Ammonium nitrate is commonly used in agriculture, but mixed with other substances can make a bomb. Its possession requires a permit in Thailand.

Prior to his arrest, the United States had warned of a “serious” threat of a terrorist attack on tourist areas in Bangkok.

Two Iranians are currently on trial for suspected involvement in a botched bomb plot against Israeli diplomats in Bangkok in February 2012.

AFP/The Local/og

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BREAKING

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

Prosecutors in Sweden are now treating the murder at the Almedalen political festival as a terror crime, with the country's Säpo security police taking over the investigation.

Swedish prosecutors upgrade Almedalen knife attack to terror crime

In a press release issued on Monday evening, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, said that the 32-year-old attacker, Theodor Engström, was now suspected of the crime of “terrorism through murder”, and also “preparation for a terror crime through preparation for murder”. 

Engström stabbed the psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren last Wednesday as she was on her way to moderate a seminar at the Almedalen political festival on the island of Gotland. 

Although he was a former member of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, police said his motive seemed to be to protest against Sweden’s psychiatry services, who he felt had treated his own mental illness badly. 

The release gave no details as to why the 32-year-old was now being investigated for a more serious crime, but terror expert Magnus Ranstorp told the Expressen newspaper that the shift indicated that police had uncovered new evidence. 

READ ALSO: What do we now know about the Almedalen knife attack? 

“The new crime classification means that they’ve either found a political motive for the attack which meets the threshold for terrorism, and that might be a political motive for murdering Ing-Marie Wieselgren,” he said. “Or they might have discovered that he was scouting out a politician, or another target that could be considered political.” 

Engström’s defence lawyer said last week that his client, who he described as disturbed and incoherent, had spoken in police interrogations of having “a higher-up target”. 

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