Iraqi charged with having 'trace' explosives in Poland

AFP , Monday 25 Jul 2016

An Iraqi man has been charged with possessing trace amounts of explosive material in Poland, officials said Monday, days ahead of the pope's visit for a huge Catholic youth festival.

Poland has upped security ahead of the World Youth Day event that will draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world to the southern city of Krakow this week.

The Iraqi man was charged in the central city of Lodz and remanded in custody for two months, local court spokesman Pawel Urbaniak told reporters.

"National prosecutors have launched an investigation," he added.

Prosecutor Beata Marczak added that the man was detained last week and charged Sunday with "possessing trace amounts of explosive material," which could result in up to eight years in jail.

"That does not mean we found enough explosive material to cause an explosion," she told reporters, adding that currently "there are no grounds for charging him with participating in terrorist activity."

Private news channel Polsat News reported that the explosive traces were found on the man's luggage and clothes at hotels in Lodz and Krakow.It added that the man had been detained at the hotel in Lodz on Sunday and had been in possession of notes on preparing terrorist acts against French supermarkets in Poland.

Polsat News described him as a 48-year-old who arrived in Poland a couple of weeks ago after being expelled from Sweden. Earlier he had lived in Switzerland for several years.

Poland will deploy more than 40,000 security personnel to protect Pope Francis, who arrives on Wednesday, and the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims meeting him during the July 26-31 youth festival.

Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told reporters Monday that around 200 people had been stopped from entering Poland in the run-up to the festival.

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