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Swiss Court OKs Charges vs. Spy

November 11, 1999

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) _ A Swiss court gave final approval Thursday to charges against an Israeli agent caught in a bungled spying operation last year.

Charges were first filed against Isaac Bental in September after he and four others were caught in February 1998 trying to install bugging equipment in an apartment building just outside the Swiss capital of Bern.

Bental _ also identified by the alias Jacob Track _ told investigators he was working on orders of Mossad, the Israeli secret service, and said the operation targeted an apartment thought to be connected to Hezbollah, the guerrilla group fighting Israeli troops occupying southern Lebanon.

A panel of Switzerland’s supreme court approved the charges Thursday in a standard procedure. No date has yet been set for the agent’s trial before Switzerland’s federal criminal court.

Bental faces charges of committing illegal acts for a foreign government, political espionage, falsifying identification papers, and attempted interception and recording of conversations.

Israel, which apologized for the espionage operation, paid about $2 million to bail out the arrested agent in April 1998, and guaranteed he would appear for trial in Switzerland.

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