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Palestinian ordered held in bottled-weapon case

December 20, 1985

LARNACA, Cyprus (AP) _ A court ordered a Palestinian with a U.S. passport to jail Thursday while police investigate an attempt to smuggle weapons into the country inside large, wicker-covered wine bottles.

Police said the bottles were cut open, stuffed with foil-wrapped pistols, grenades and ammunition, then put back together and filled with opaque liquid.

The man was identified as Yezid Gasper Sayiagh, 30. Police said they arrested him Wednesday night, 24 hours after catching another Palestinian who was trying to board a Swissair jet bound for Jordan and the United Arab Emirates with two weapon-filled wine bottles.

Sayiagh was ordered held for four days pending the results of the investigation.

Police inspector Yannakis Christodoulou said he was looking into ″an attempted crime of serious repercussions, possibly the hijacking of an aircraft or some other act of violence.″

He said Sami Anis Maroun Nasser, 26, the man arrested at the airport Tuesday, was a Palestinian with a Jordanian passport and gave police the names of Sayiagh and three other foreigners with whom he had been in touch since arriving from Amman last Sunday. The court ordered Wednesday that Nasser be held for eight days.

Christodoulou said his men were trying to trace the others for questioning.

Airport security guards discovered that the two bottles Nasser was carrying as hand luggage contained three pistols, three grenades, a silencer and 91 rounds of ammunition, the inspector told the court.

He said two similar bottles containing five grenades and two pistol silencers were found in the apartment of Nasser’s sister in the south coast port city of Limassol.

Nasser met with Sayiagh every day during his stay on this eastern Mediterranean island, Christodoulou said.

Sayiagh’s attorney told the court the meetings were of a ″social nature because of the two men’s old friendship from the days when they were both students at the American University of Beirut.″

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