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Friday 29 August 2014

Family of solider murdered in Lebanon in 1980 ‘let down’ by Irish government

Brian O'Reilly

Published 16/07/2014 | 08:41

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Irish troops serving in Syria were 200 metres from a firefight between Government and anti-government forces
Irish troops serving in Syria were 200 metres from a firefight between Government and anti-government forces

THE family of an Irish soldier murdered in Lebanon in 1980 say they have been ‘let down’ by the Irish government.

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Privates Derek Smallhorne, from Co Dublin, and Thomas Barrett, from Co Cork, were abducted in southern Lebanon in April 1980 by members of the South Lebanon Army.

Lebanese national Mahmoud Bazzi is believed to have played a role in the crime during a UN peacekeeping mission.

Both men were discovered shot dead nearby, and their bodies showed signs of torture.

Mr Bazzi (71) moved to the US shortly afterwards and was living in Detroit, where he had recently been working as an ice cream man.

Speaking the Morning Ireland on RTE Radio One this morning, Private Barrett’s daughter Karen said the family were in shock.

“We’re still in complete shock to be brutally honest. This is 34 years in the making.

“This is the first step of hopefully seeing justice for my dad and Derek.”

She said the family has always grown up yearning for justice for their father.

“My mother held the torch and fought and always maintained my father was scapegoat,

“As we grew up she told us exactly what happened to my dad, we went to the government and wanted to know what happened and why it was allowed to happen.

“Legally we’ve done all we can in Ireland, and always been told nothing can be done legally and Bazzi will have to be returned to Lebannon where the crimes committed, but unfortunately there’s no extradition agreement between the US and Lebannon.

“It has been extremely difficult, our aim always has been we wanted justice for my dad. My mam wanted justice for her husband, his family wanted justice for their son or brother.”

She also criticised the successive governments for not helping the family more.

“We feel let down by the Irish government. In 34 years the same response the has been ‘we cannot do anything’.

“34 years this man has resided in America, he’s lived the good life and he’s gone unquestioned, we feel a lot more could have been done on this.”

US authorities said Mr Bazzi was arrested by federal agents at his home in Dearborn in Michigan for “administrative immigration violations”.

He will be held in custody pending removal proceedings.

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