Terrorism suspect insists bomb in Germany was hoax
A Lebanese student accused of planting a bomb on a German train pleaded his innocence before a German court Tuesday, saying that the gas-filled device in his possession was only meant to scare, dpa reported.
"I swear by God almighty that I had no intention of killing anybody," said Youssef al-Hajj Dib, 24. "I knew when I took the bag in my hand that it was not going to explode."
The court in Dusseldorf is to give its verdict next Tuesday on the charge of attempted murder. Prosecutors say Germany narrowly escaped its first terrorist massacre in the attacks by al-Hajj Dib and another Islamist radical in July 2006.
The two men allegedly wanted to punish German newspapers over cartoons they believed denigrated Islam.
Al-Hajj Dib, who was allowed the last word before the judges retire to consider their verdict, had earlier admitted he and accomplice Jihad Hamad had boarded trains, each with bombs concealed in suitcases, and left them on board.
Police say the timers worked and the detonators fired, but the gas charge in both bombs failed to ignite. Defence lawyers claimed that was exactly what both men intended.
"If I had really intended to commit a terrorist attack, I would have been far more careful," asserted al-Hajj Dib.
"To us, it was just a warning. If I had wanted to kill people, I would have covered up all the clues and worn gloves. I was definitely capable of making a proper bomb if I wanted to."
He said he had dropped his original plan to make a real bomb after his brother Ahmed was killed in Lebanon.
"That was when I began to think about what it means when innocent people are killed. That opened my eyes," he said. "This could have killed innocent children."
He said he and Hamad went ahead and put their bombs in the trains all the same "because it would have been so stupid to have to take the bombs apart again."
Prosecutors asked the court to convict him and sentence him to life imprisonment. Hamad is already serving 12 years in prison in Lebanon on related charges.
The prosecutors said the size of the bombs and the seating in railway carriages suggested up to 70 people could have been killed if the bombs had exploded while the two regional trains were carrying passengers.
Defence lawyers called for an acquittal saying it was not attempted murder if the accused had decided beforehand that he did not intend to kill anyone.