Siblings of Mike's Place Bomber Acquitted in U.K. Court

Brother, sister cleared of failing to tell police Omar Hanif planned to blow himself up in club.

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The brother and sister of a British would-be suicide bomber have been cleared by a court of charges they failed to tell police their brother planned to take part in an attack that killed three in a busy Tel Aviv bar.

The case, resolved on Monday, was a re-trial after a jury last year failed to reach a verdict.

Zahid and Parveen Sharif were accused of knowing their brother Omar Sharif had plotted to blow himself up along with another Briton, Asif Hanif, at Mike's Place club in Tel Aviv in April 2003.

Hanif's bomb detonated, killing three and wounding 65 but Sharif fled after failing to set off his bomb. His decomposed body was found floating off the Mediterranean coast almost two weeks later.

London's Old Bailey court was told Sharif and Hanif, from Hounslow in west London, were recruited by Hamas in England before traveling to Damascus on April 10.

They entered Israel via Jordan and the West Bank, their British passports ensuring they escaped stringent searches.

After the bombing, police discovered two e-mails which formed the basis of the case against Sharif's family.

The first, sent by Omar to his brother, warned him that "difficult times may lie ahead" for Zahid's family and to "get rid of any material you may consider problematic."

The second sent by Parveen seven days before the attack encouraged Omar to "stay focused and determined."

"There is no time to be weak and emotional," her e-mail said.

Zahid, 38, and Parveen, 37, from Derby, central England, denied the charges, saying they had no idea what Omar Sharif was planning and that the e-mails had been misinterpreted.

They were cleared by the jury of failing to warn the authorities of the impending attack - a new offense, brought in by Britain following 9/11.

Primary school teacher Parveen was also acquitted of encouraging her brother to carry out the bombing at the Israeli seaside club.

"They want to make it clear they did not know what their brother was going to do," the Sharifs' cousin said outside court after the verdict.

"It shocked them as much as everyone else and they are still shocked."



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