Trial delayed for Frenchman accused of Gaza gun-running


BEERSHEBA: A French employee of his country’s Jerusalem consulate accused of smuggling dozens of guns from Gaza to the West Bank in an official car appeared in an Israeli court Monday, but had his trial delayed.

Romain Franck, a 24-year-old French citizen, is accused along with several Palestinian suspects of belonging to a gun-running network.

He appeared in court in the southern city of Beersheba in a grey t-shirt. His parents and a French embassy representative also attended the hearing.

After Franck’s lawyer requested more time to prepare his case and asked for an official translation into French of the charge sheet, the judge adjourned the trial to September 16.

Palestinian suspect Muwafaq Al-Ajlouni appeared alongside Franck. A translator was present to interpret from Hebrew to Arabic for him, but a French translator was absent from the court.

Franck allegedly took advantage of reduced security checks for consular vehicles to transport the weapons out of the Gaza Strip to the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

He is accused of receiving the guns from a Palestinian in Gaza who worked at the French cultural center in the strip.

Israeli officials have stressed he acted on his own without the consulate’s knowledge, adding that diplomatic relations with France were not affected.

According to the Shin Bet domestic security agency, he was motivated by money and paid a total of around $5,500.

It said Franck, who was arrested on February 15, had transferred 70 pistols and two automatic rifles in five trips. A total of nine suspects have been arrested.

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