A MAN charged with murdering two Irish soldiers in Lebanon 35 years ago went on trial in Beirut yesterday.
Lebanese man Mahmoud Bazzi (71, pictured) was charged before a military tribunal with the murders of Irish peacekeepers Private Thomas Barrett and Private Derek Smallhorne in 1980.
He was also charged with the attempted murder of Private John O'Mahony.
Following initial exchanges, the president of the military tribunal adjourned the trial to November 25.
Mr Bazzi has remained in custody since he was arrested on his arrival in Lebanon last January after he was deported from the US.
The three Irish soldiers were in a convoy that was stopped in a village by gunmen in 1980. They were separated from others in the convoy and were shot. Private O'Mahony survived.
Defence Minister Simon Coveney described the trial as "another important step towards the pursuit of justice for Privates Thomas Barrett and Derek Smallhorne who lost their lives tragically while on UN peacekeeping duty.
"I would like to assure the families that I and the Irish Government will continue to provide whatever assistance possible to the Lebanese authorities in progressing this important matter and ensure justice for the families."