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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 18:15 GMT 19:15 UK
Brazil arrests suspected Egyptian militant
Hatshepsut Temple in Luxor, Upper Egypt
The Luxor attack shook Egypt's tourist industry
Brazilian police have arrested an Egyptian believed to be a member of the militant group which killed 58 foreign tourists and four other people in the Egyptian city of Luxor.

Mohammed Ali al-Mahdi Ibrahim Soliman was arrested on Monday outside his house in the city of Foz de Iguacu, 825 kilometres (510 miles) southwest of Sao Paulo.

Mr Soliman is suspected of "terrorist acts against Egyptians and foreigners" said a Brazilian police spokesman.

The Supreme Court ordered Mr Soliman's arrest after receiving a request from the Egyptian Government for his extradition to face charges of terrorism.

Officials carry out a victim of the Luxor attack for medical attention
The 1997 attack targeted one of Egypt's most popular tourist sites

Mr Soliman is accused by Egypt of carrying out militant attacks along with Said Hazan Al Mohammed - an Egyptian arrested in 1999 trying to enter Uruguay from Brazil.

Mr Al Mohammed has denied accusations he was involved in the 1997 attack on Egypt's Luxor temple complex when 58 tourists and four Egyptians were murdered.

Joaquim Mesquita, head of the federal police office in Foz de Iguacu, said Mr Soliman was a member of the Al-Gama'at Al-Islamiyya, or the Islamic Group.

Police are to transfer Mr Soliman to the capital, Brasilia, on Tuesday where he will remain in prison until the Supreme Court decides whether it will accept Egypt's extradition request.

'Innocent'

Mr Soliman is understood to have been living in Brazil for the past eight years and is married to a Brazilian woman, with whom he has a two-year-old daughter.

His neighbourhood in Foz de Iguacu is home to an estimated 20,000 Arab Muslims and has been described by the US State Department as a "focal point for Islamic extremism in Latin America".


He never broke any law in Egypt

Fernando Cesar Resta Antune
lawyer

Brazilian authorities stepped up surveillance of the area after the 11 September attacks against America.

Mr Soliman was previously arrested by Brazilian police in 1999 on suspicion of smuggling but was subsequently set free.

Fernando Cesar Resta Antune, Mr Soliman's solicitor, told the Globo television network his client was innocent.

"He never broke any law in Egypt," he said.

"We must now find out what exactly the Egyptian Government considers terrorism."

See also:

10 Mar 00 | Middle East
Swiss abandon Luxor massacre inquiry
14 May 99 | Middle East
Bin Laden 'behind Luxor massacre'
02 Feb 98 | Middle East
Egyptian militants sentenced to death
19 Nov 97 | World
What happened at Luxor?
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