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Germany in Brief

French police arrest German and Moroccan suspects in deadly Tunisian terror attack; parliament extends Kosovo peacekeeping mandate; U.N. observers kidnapped in Georgia and more.


German soldiers will be staying on another year in Kosovo

Suspects in Tunisia Terror Attack Arrested

Police in Paris have arrested a 36-year-old German suspected of involvement in the April 2002 terrorist attack on a synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia, which killed 21 people. Christian Ganczarski is thought to be an accomplice to Karim Mehdi, a 34-year-old Moroccan who was also arrested on charges of terrorism and is believed to have ties to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terror network. Though Ganczarski was detained on Monday, French authorities first announced the arrest on Friday. Ganczarski came under the focus of investigators after it was discovered he had received a call from suicide bomber Nizar Nawar shortly before the bombing near a synagogue on the island of Djerba. Police searching Ganczarski's home also discovered the phone number of Mounir el Motassadeq, who was convicted as an accomplice to the Hamburg terror cell responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks in February. Ganczarski was detained briefly in 2002 but then released for insufficient evidence. Investigators believe the two men could help them link the Djerba attack to al Qaeda.

Parliament extends Kosovo mandate, supports Congo

German Bundeswehr soldiers will be maintaining the peace for another year in Kosovo. With only three dissentions, Germany’s parliament on Thursday voted to extend its military contribution to the NATO-led peacekeeping force in the southern Serbian province. Speaking on behalf of the ruling Social Democrats, parliamentarian Detlef Dzembritzki stressed that there was still much to be done in the region. As long as civilians have to be escorted by soldiers, the mandate is necessary, he said. The current mandate, which would have expired next week, sees the deployment of 3,700 soldiers and together with the peace keeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina has already run up a bill of close to a billion euro. Parliament also voted to have the government look into supporting a European Union-led peacekeeping mission to Congo. After the government determines the extent of possible German participation, the parliament will again have to vote to approve on the mission June 18. Germany has already said it would limit itself to a support role in Congo and would not send combat troops.

U.N. Observers Kidnapped in Georgia

Three United Nations observers patrolling the remote border region between Georgia and separatist Abkhazia were abducted on Thursday. The observers, two Germans and a Dane, were part of a 100-strong U.N. monitoring team sent to watch over a truce between Georgia and Abkhazia, which proclaimed itself a separate state in 1993 following the break-up of the Soviet Union. Georgian officials said the kidnappers had not yet contacted authorities with their demands, but suspected money was the motive. "We are very close to finding their whereabouts," Emzar Kvitsiani, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze’s envoy in the region, told Reuters.

Defective brakes blamed for deadly bus crash

Three weeks after a bus accident in Lyon, France, killed 28 German tourists, a report revealed that the vehicle's breaks were defective. French transport authorities investigating the crash said the northern German tour bus should not have been on the road. The bus' breaks were defective, its tires were not aligned and the undercarriage was full of rust, investigators concluded. The independent German technical testing organization, TÜV, in the state of Lower Saxony where the bus was based, came under fire for not checking the bus thoroughly enough before approving it for travel. A spokesman for TÜV countered the accusations and said the bus had passed a complete technical inspection in March. The public prosecutor’s office in Lower Saxony is now investigating.

Compiled with information from wire services.