November 25, 2015 / 6:19 PM / in 2 years

Hungarian court says terror suspect is World War Two hobbyist

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - A Hungarian detained by police on suspicion of international terrorism links is a World War Two hobbyist who was stopped while driving home with old ammunition he had dug up in a forest, a court said on Wednesday.

The man, identified as by the court as Roland S., was stopped on Saturday along with three friends by the TEK anti-terror police, who found explosives in his car.

The head of the TEK, Janos Hajdu, said police found a bomb-making laboratory in the suspect’s home.

Refusing a prosecutor’s application for Roland S. to be held in custody, the court said on Wednesday there was no evidence to support the TEK’s assertion that he or the three others had terrorism links or were plotting to kill anyone.

“The circumstances of the case point to the opposite. There is no data of extremist views or - beyond the fact that two of his friends are ethnic Hungarians from Slovakia - international ties either,” it said.

The main suspect, who had no criminal record, “lives with his mother and his stepfather and is a World War II hobbyist.”

He had used a metal detector in a forest in western Hungary to find items including armor-piercing shells, grenades, bullets and a sack filled with gunpowder, and tried to take them home, the court heard.

TEK deputy director Zsolt Bodnar told Reuters on Wednesday the apartment lab contained tools to dismantle explosive devices and chemicals, and could be used make concealed explosives.

He said the four suspects were found as police stepped up investigations to ensure Hungarian officials entitled to “top protection” were safe, in the wake of the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris.

All four remain under investigation for unlicensed possession of equipment capable of making explosives.

Bodnar added that, in a separate case, two Hungarians were detained on Saturday because of information that had shown they were plotting violent action in Budapest.

A police video showed live ammunition and weapons that the TEK said belonged to the pair.

Reporting by Budapest newsroom; editing by John Stonestreet

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