Three Suspects in Kidnap of Turkish Pilots Freed on Bailإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Mount Lebanon Investigative Judge Ziad Makna on Monday agreed to release on bail three suspects held in connection with the August abduction of two Turkish pilots near Beirut's airport, state-run National News Agency reported.
Mohammed Saleh, Hasan Saleh and Nadim Zgheib – relatives of 2 of 9 Lebanese pilgrims freed Saturday after a 17-month kidnap ordeal in Syria – paid a L.L.500,000 bail each, NNA said.
"We are innocent and everything will be clarified later," one of the suspects told reporters as the three left the Roumieh prison.
The two Turkish Airlines pilots – Murat Akpinar and Murat Agca – were freed Saturday as part of a swap deal involving the release of the nine pilgrims and a number of Syrian women prisoners.
A Qatari plane carried the two men home after a Lebanese military helicopter flew them from the Riyaq airport in the Bekaa to Beirut's airport following their release by their abductors.
Eleven Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped in Syria's Aleppo region in May 2012 as they were making their way back to Lebanon by land from pilgrimage in Iran. Two of them were released in late 2012 and the remaining nine on Saturday.
On August 9, gunmen abducted the two Turkish pilots after ambushing a bus carrying Turkish Airlines crew from Rafik Hariri International Airport to a hotel in Beirut.
The families of the Lebanese abductees had accused Turkey of being behind the kidnapping of their loved ones. They, however, were quick to deny any involvement in the abduction of the Turkish pilots.
A previously unknown group calling itself Zuwwar Imam al-Rida claimed the abduction, and demanded that Turkey use its influence with Syrian rebels it backs to secure the release of the nine pilgrims.
On August 11, Mohammed Saleh was arrested by the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau on charges of having links to the kidnappers of two Turkish pilots.
Saleh's family insisted that he only received messages of “congratulations” on his telephone when news of the abduction broke out and that he was innocent.