ROME (Nov. 18)
The Italian Government today ordered the expulsion from the country of two Egyptian diplomats who were arrested yesterday when they attempted to smuggle aboard an Egyptian airliner a drugged man–reportedly an Israeli citizen–who was bound and gagged inside a specially fitted trunk. The diplomats were identified as Abdel Neklawi and Selim Osman el Sajed, secretaries at the Egyptian Embassy.
The trunk, bearing labels describing it as “diplomatic luggage.” had passed through customs and was waiting to be loaded aboard a Cairo-bound Egyptian airliner when a customs guard heard faint cries coming from inside the trunk. One of the Egyptians tried to explain that the sounds were coming from a musical instrument inside the trunk but the alert Italian guard stationed a colleague near the case and went to summon police.
The two Egyptians quickly loaded the trunk aboard a waiting truck and began speeding away from the airport but were overtaken by police a short distance away. They were released when they were found to have diplomatic passports.
The man in the trunk, who was barely conscious when police opened it, said his name was Joseph Dahan and that he was an Israeli citizen. He said he had worked as an interpreter for many years at the Moroccan and Egyptian embassies in Rome. The Israeli embassy said it had no record of him.
He told police that he had met with the Egyptian officials who drugged him and placed him in the trunk after binding and gagging him. The trunk was fitted with shackles and airport personnel said that it had shown signs of having been used before to transport victims. Dahan was being held today under police guard to protect him from further possible Egyptian attempts to abduct him.