Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Thursday, 25 February 2010

Australia summons Israeli envoy over Dubai killing


CCTV of new Hamas murder suspects

Australia has summoned the Israeli ambassador to explain why three new suspects over the Dubai killing of a Hamas leader used Australian passports.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Canberra would "not be silent on the matter".

Dubai police think Israeli agents were involved in Mahmoud al-Mabhouh's death but Israel says there is no proof.

The police say they have identified 15 more suspects - using British, French, Irish and Australian documents - taking the total to 26.

'No minor matter'

Mr Rudd said Canberra would retaliate against any country found to be involved in forging its passports.

He said that Australia would first try to establish the facts, but that this was not "a minor matter".

"It is not something you just push to one side. It is of the deepest concern," he added.

According to a preliminary investigation by the Australian federal police, the three - two men and one woman - have been victims of identity fraud.

One passport is alleged to have belonged to Adam Marcus Korman, a 34-year-old Australian living in Tel Aviv, where he sells musical instruments.

Stephen Smith, Australian Foreign Minister: Situation "made crystal clear" to Israel

"I am shocked, it's identity theft - simply unbelievable," he told Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, adding that although he had travelled all over the world, he had never visited Dubai or any of the other emirates in the UAE.

On Tuesday, Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni applauded the killing, which Dubai believes was organised by Israel's intelligence service, Mossad.

Israel has been widely blamed for the murder, but has refused to confirm or deny any involvement.

One of the founders of Hamas's military wing, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, Mr Mabhouh was found dead in a hotel room in the Gulf emirate on 20 January.

A post-mortem examination report said he had been electrocuted and then suffocated.

Travel chart

Earlier this month Dubai authorities released the names and passport photographs of 11 "agents with European passports" - six from the UK, three Irish, one French and one German.

Dubai police chart showing movements of suspects before and after killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

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All four countries have since said the documents were fraudulent.

On Wednesday, the police released a new list of suspects who allegedly offered "logistical support" in the months before the January killing.

The police also produced a chart tracing the travel routes of both the new and old suspects before and after Mr Mabhouh's death.

"The suspects gathered in Dubai and dispersed to various locations before pairing up again in different teams and heading off to other destinations," they said.

The police said two of the Australian passport holders had allegedly travelled by boat to Iran during a reconnaissance mission last August.

Investigators have also discovered that 14 of the suspects had used credit cards issued by MetaBank - a small bank based in the US state of Iowa - to book hotel rooms and pay for air travel.

A MetaBank spokeswoman told the Associated Press news agency that the bank was trying to confirm the reports.

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