Still Free on Bond, Faces Hearing Next Month on Extradition to Florida.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Although he failed to show up at an extradition hearing on a 1975 bombing, a Palestinian man federal authorities say they suspect of terrorism remained free on $25,000 bond because of confusion over serving him a subpoena.
Seleh Qassen, 34, now faces a May 9 extradition hearing in connection with the Nov. 8, l975, bombing of the Tri-City Shopping Center in Winter Garden, Fla., where he is wanted on a charge of first-degree arson. One person was injured, three shops were destroyed and another was damaged in the explosion.
U.S. Marshal James V. Serio Jr. of the Eastern District of Louisiana said recently the man is suspected of being a Palestinian terrorist and a very dangerous explosives expert.
However, Assistant District Attorney Val Solino told a judge there was no evidence Qassen posed a danger to the community and Winter Garden Police Chief Jimmie Yawn said Qassen has not been linked to any kind of terrorist movement.
″This explosion appears to be strictly for (insurance) money,″ he said.
Qassen was called Monday to New Orleans Criminal District Court to explain why he shouldn’t have to forfeit $25,000 bond he posted after his March 17 arrest here. He failed to appear April 3 for a hearing on his extradition to Florida.
Judge Gerard Hansen left the bond at $25,000, noting confusion over Qaasen’s failure to show at the earlier hearing.
His lawyer, Glyn Godwin, told the judge that Qassen was never served the subpoena, and a court clerk confirmed a deputy couldn’t find the address to present it to Qassen.
Authorities are searching for Abdel Ahakib Kasem, Qassen’s cousin, who is also charged in the bombing, Serio said.
Records in Florida show that Qassen and Kasem were arrested in 1975 in West Orange Memorial Hospital in Winter Garden following the bombing and that they each posted a $5,000 cash bond. They did not show up for their scheduled trial in February 1976.