DATE=7/3/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=SWISS SPY TRIAL (L-O) UPDATE NUMBER=2-264019 BYLINE=LISA SCHLEIN DATELINE=GENEVA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: An Israeli secret agent is on trial nearly two-and-one-half years after his arrest on charges of spying in Switzerland. Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports the man, identified as working for Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, appeared in a Lausanne court. TEXT: Six Mossad agents were involved in the operation. All but one got away. It was supposed to have been a routine operation. But everything went wrong. Nearly two-and-one-half years ago, the Israeli agents tried to install wire tapping equipment in an apartment building in a quiet suburb of the capital, Bern. The reported aim was to listen in on the telephone conversations of a Swiss citizen of Lebanese origin. Swiss officials say the man had links with the Lebanese militant organization, Hezbollah. Because of an observant woman tenant, the undercover operation went badly wrong. After midnight, she heard strange noises in the basement of the building, went to investigate and notified the police. Three of the agents were caught. Two others were apprehended outside the building. A sixth agent, believed to be the head of the operation, was never caught. In the best tradition of spy novels, four of the agents managed through a variety of ruses to persuade the Swiss police to let them go. The fifth man, known under the alias of Issac Bental, was jailed for more than two-months. He was released after Israel paid bail of two-million-dollars and promised that he would return to face trial. Switzerland threatened to break off relations unless Israel apologized. In a departure from its normal procedure, Israel eventually offered an apology. Issac Bental faces up to 20-years imprisonment if found guilty of spying for another country. Swiss officials say he admitted accepting the mission from Mossad. Mr. Bental reportedly told the Swiss he wanted - in his words - to save lives and contribute personally to prevent further lethal attempts of Hezbollah. (SIGNED) NEB/LS/GE/RAE 03-Jul-2000 12:24 PM EDT (03-Jul-2000 1624 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .