The defendant had received training, including military training, by Hizballah and was on the organization’s payroll receiving USD 600 at least since 2010. He travelled to Cyprus numerous times in order to establish a branch of Hizballah. His activities included collection of information on flights from Israel, vehicles carrying Israel citizens, restaurants and hotels visited by Israel citizens. Notes were taken down in an encrypted manner. Further he invented a cover story of conducting business, establishing a Cyprus company and creating social life on the island, identified rendezvous points and internet cafes without cctv systems and obtained sim cards in order to hand them over to Hizballah. The defendant was acting under orders of his handler with the code name ‘Aiman’ whom allegedly he had never seen, as he was wearing a mask during their meetings.
The defendant was accused of conspiracy to commit felony, participation to a criminal organization, participation and acceptance to commit a crime and money laundering, as the Attorney General clarified in detail following the interim judgment of the Court of September 28, 2012 (II). The defendant’s written statements were challenged on the ground of inhuman treatment. The Court took into consideration that he was in contact with the Embassy of Lebanon and the Embassy of Sweden, as a dual national, his family, he had access to interpreter and he had neither complained nor indicated any fear during the interrogation. Thus, it rejected the challenge (interim judgment of December 11, 2012).
The Court found that Hizballah was a criminal organization. Defendant’s allegation that surveillance of Israelis took place for the purpose of updating Hizaballah’s database was not convincing. It found the defendant guilty of participation to a criminal organization, participation and acceptance to commit a crime and money laundering. He was acquitted of conspiracy to commit felony (final judgment of March 21, 2012). He received a four years prison sentence for participation and acceptance to commit a crime. The Court ordered no sentence for the other crimes (final judgment of March 28, 2012).
The defendant filed an appeal on the following grounds: failure to ensure fair trial; wrong evaluation of evidence; and wrong finding that Hizballah constitutes a criminal organization. The majority of the Supreme Court of Cyprus rejected it (final judgment of March 19, 2014). According to the dissenting opinion, the appeal would have been successful, and it would then find that Hizballah was not a criminal organization and that it was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had participated and accepted to commit a crime (final judgment of March 19, 2014 - dissenting opinion).
Note: Hizballah = Hezballah
Cyprus v. Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, District Court of Limassol Penal Case No. 17714/12
- Interim judgment of September 28, 2012 (I)
- Interim judgment of September 28, 2012 (II)
- Interim judgment of December 11, 2012
- Final judgment of March 21, 2013
- Final judgment of March 28, 2013 (sentencing)
Hossam Taleb Yaacoub v. Cyprus, Supreme Court of Cyprus Penal Appeal No. 72/2013