DETROIT, July 31 (UPI) -- A Detroit-area ice cream man will appear in federal immigration court today as the United States attempts to deport him to his native Lebanon for his alleged role in the torture death of two Irish United Nations soldiers in 1980.
Mahmoud Bazzi was arrested July 15 in Dearborn, Mich., where the 71-year-old drove an ice cream truck. Although federal immigration officials accuse Bazzi of illegally entering the United States with another person's passport, the Irish government also believes he was involved in the 1980 torture deaths of two Irish U.N. soldiers serving tours in Lebanon.
Thursday's hearing in front of an immigration judge will determine whether or not Bazzi will be held in prison for the duration of the deportation process. If he is deported, it is up to the Lebanese government to turn him over to Irish or international authorities.
John O'Mahony, the only Irish survivor of the Lebanon incident, says he's sure it was Bazzi who shot him and tortured his fellow U.N. soldiers.
"I don't think it is a face that I will ever forget," O'Mahony told the Irish Times.
O'Mahony, Derek Smallhorne and Thomas Barrett were captured in 1980 by Christian militants while on a peacekeeping mission to keep warring factions apart in Lebanon.
As revenge for the death of a man later confirmed to be a relative of Bazzi, a bounty was put out for at least two Irish soldiers.
O'Mahony, Smallhorne and Barrett were taken captive with a group of peacekeepers, and Bazzi allegedly separated the three men upon learning they were Irish.
O'Mahony was shot twice and the other two soldiers -- each a week away from completing their tours and returning home -- attempted to flee. Both were quickly recaptured by Christian militants.
Assuming O'Mahony was dead or soon would be, the militants left the scene, stuffing Smallhorne and Barrett into Peugeot 404 and driving away.
"I believe it was Barrett who was sitting in the back seat behind the driver," witness Steve Hindy said.
"He craned his neck looking back at us with a look of sheer terror on his face ... That was the last we ever saw of them."
The men's bodies were discovered later that day, apparently tortured and shot.