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Tight security at courthouse as two charged in major probe

TWO men arrested last week as part of a major garda and international investigation have been remanded in custody on separate charges.

The men were brought before a special sitting of Waterford District Court last night after being held for questioning by gardai for a week.

Algerian-born Ali Charaf Damach has been charged with sending a telephone message of a menacing character, while Libyan native Abdul Salam Monsour Khalil Al Jehani is charged with not presenting a valid passport.

They were among seven people arrested early last Tuesday in Waterford and Cork as part of a major international investigation involving gardai and police forces from a number of jurisdictions.

The suspects were brought to the courthouse in Waterford city shortly after 9pm last night amid tight security, with a heavy garda presence around the building. There was also a strong representation from the local, national and international media at the courthouse.

Gardai applied to have Ali Charaf Damach remanded in custody on the basis that he had previously used two different names -- Thierry Garnier and Alex Garnier -- since coming to Ireland in 2000.

Detective Sergeant Donal O'Donoghue also told the court that the accused had an Irish passport and was planning trips to Afghanistan and Algeria.

"At this point we are unsure exactly who Ali Charaf Damach is," he said.

The accused himself swore on the Koran that Ali Charaf Damach was his real name and that he had used "Christian" names in the past because he came up against discrimination from potential employers when looking for a job in Ireland.

Judge David Kennedy remanded him in custody, to appear again in Waterford District Court this Friday.

Bail was opposed in the case of Abdul Salam Monsour Khalil Al Jehani, Det Sgt Donal O'Donoghue said, because he had given a false name to claim asylum when he arrived in Ireland in 2001.

Five others arrested during the operation which saw the two accused being detained have been released.

Irish Independent