Israel jails French consulate worker for Gaza gun smuggling
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Israel jails French consulate worker for Gaza gun smuggling

Romain Franck sentenced to seven years with a NIS 30,000 fine for using diplomatic car to ferry weapons from Gaza to West Bank

French national Romain Franck (R), then 24, a worker at the French consulate, and Palestinians Moufak al-Ajluni (L) and Mohamed Katout (C) appear in court in the Israeli city of Haifa on March 19, 2018, to face charges of smuggling guns from Gaza. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
French national Romain Franck (R), then 24, a worker at the French consulate, and Palestinians Moufak al-Ajluni (L) and Mohamed Katout (C) appear in court in the Israeli city of Haifa on March 19, 2018, to face charges of smuggling guns from Gaza. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

The Beersheba District Court on Monday sentenced a former French consulate worker to seven years in prison for smuggling guns from the Gaza Strip after a plea bargain.

Romain Franck, who worked as a driver for the consulate, went on trial after being accused of exploiting reduced security checks for diplomats to smuggle 70 pistols and two automatic rifles from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

He was also given a fine of NIS 30,000 ($8,400).

Franck’s lawyer Kenneth Mann said he intended to request that his client serve the sentence in France.

Mann said the judge was willing to issue a more lenient sentence than might otherwise have been given because Franck, 24, had shown remorse and was motivated by money, not by solidarity with Palestinian terror groups.

Employee of the French consulate in Jerusalem, Romain Franck, accused by Israel of running guns from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. (Shin Bet)

Franck, relying on a court interpreter from Hebrew to French, showed no visible reaction when the sentence was announced.

“This is a very, very difficult thing for the whole family of course, but they understand that this is the law and they hope that their son will be returned to France as quickly as possible,” Mann told AFP after Monday’s hearing.

Franck was arrested in February 2018 and his trial began the following month at the district court in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.

Israeli officials have said he acted on his own without the consulate’s knowledge and that diplomatic relations with France were not affected.

The Shin Bet internal security agency has said he was paid a total of around NIS 20,000 ($5,500) for the guns he smuggled for a network made up of several Palestinian operatives.

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