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Man convicted of murder of two Irish soldiers in Lebanon in 1980

Private Thomas Barrett and Private Derek Smallhorne were killed while on a peacekeeping mission over 40 years ago.

Mahmoud Bazzi pictured in Michigan in the US in 2014.
Mahmoud Bazzi pictured in Michigan in the US in 2014.
Image: MCT/SIPA USA/PA Images

A MAN HAS been convicted of the murder of two Irish soliders in Lebanon in 1980, Defence Minister Simon Coveney has confirmed.

The trial of Mahmoud Bazzi (76) by a Lebanese Military Tribunal in Beirut Lebanon has been ongoing since June 2015.

At the latest hearing yesterday, Bazzi was convicted of the offences and sentenced to serve a life sentence in prison.

Due to Bazzi’s age, the sentence was reduced to 15 years. He has been in custody since January 2015 after being deported from the US following years on the run.

On 18 April 1980, Private Thomas Barrett and Private Derek Smallhorne were murdered, and one soldier, Private John O’Mahony, was seriously injured in the same incident in Lebanon.

The personnel were serving as peacekeepers with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

At the village of At-Tiri, a convoy, which included the three Irish soldiers, was stopped and all the personnel were taken prisoner by de-facto forces.

The Defence Forces personnel were disarmed and separated from the rest of the group. Private O’Mahony was shot and seriously injured while Privates Barrett and Smallhorne were murdered.

Speaking after receiving the news, Coveney said he was “thankful that this matter has been brought to a conclusion”.

“The Irish government has done everything possible to assist the Lebanese authorities with this case in recent years and I am delighted that, after four decades since the murder of the two peacekeepers, justice has now been done.”

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Coveney said the families of Privates Thomas Barrett and Derek Smallhorne have been updated on the outcome of the case.

“I hope this decision of the Military Tribunal will go some way to ease the suffering endured by the families by the loss of their loved ones.”

The Minister commended Ex-Private John O’Mahony who suffered serious injuries in the same attack, for his courage and dignity in having faced Bazzi at the earlier stages of the tribunal process.

“I appreciate how difficult that was for him and the time he took out from his own life to get justice for his colleagues. The verdict will be a huge relief to him also.”

Members of the Irish government attended meetings with Lebanese government ministers and key officials in recent years to push for justice for the families involved.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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