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Middle East

Israel tries Frenchman accused of Gaza-West Bank gun-running

media French national Romain Franck, 24, a worker at the French consulate, appears in court in the southern Israeli city of Beer Sheva on 19 March 2018, to face charges of smuggling guns from Gaza. Jack Guez/AFP

A French employee of his country's consulate accused of smuggling dozens of guns from Gaza to the West Bank in an official car appeared in an Israeli court on Monday.

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 16 September.

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.

Israeli authorities 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 €4,700.

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

(with AFP)

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