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Lebanon: Hints at Deal with US Over Fakhoury’s Case

Lebanon: Hints at Deal with US Over Fakhoury’s Case

Wednesday, 18 March, 2020 - 11:45
This August 16, 2006 file photo, a Lebanese man walks past the damaged former Israeli Khiam prison, in the southern town of Khiam, Lebanon, that was attacked during the July 2006 war. (AP)

A Lebanese military judge on Wednesday asked the Cassation Court to overturn the verdict on the release of Amer Fakhoury, a former collaborator with Israel, amid mounting condemnation and hints at a political deal with the US.

In a surprising decision on Monday, the Military Court acquitted Fakhoury of arresting, seizing, and torturing Lebanese citizens in the Khiam prison that Israel established during its occupation of southern Lebanon between 1985 and 2000.

Fakhoury, who arrived six months ago from the US, was ordered released on Monday because more than 10 years had passed since he allegedly committed the crimes, the National News Agency reported.

Judge Ghassan Khoury asked the Military Court of Appeals to strike down the ruling in favor of Fakhoury and issue an arrest warrant against him. He asked that Fakhoury be put on trial again on charges of kidnapping, torturing and detaining Lebanese citizens as well as “killing and attempting to kill others,” according to NNA.

The decision to acquit Fakhoury sparked surprise and condemnation among Lebanese politicians.

The leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt, decried the ruling on Twitter, saying: “It is a poisonous potion for the presidency.”

Hezbollah issued a statement, saying: “Unfortunately, American pressure has paid off today.”

“This is a sad day for Lebanon and for justice, and it is a decision that calls for regret, anger, and condemnation,” it added.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, opposition political sources asked whether the decision was linked to information about US sanctions that would affect Hezbollah’s allies outside the Shiite duo.

The sources also asked whether there was a cost for acquitting Fakhoury, linked to “the normalization of US-Lebanese relations and the maintenance of a thin line between Washington and the Lebanese government that facilitates an American green light for the International Monetary Fund to provide cash assistance to Lebanon.”

Well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the decision was made due to “tremendous pressure exerted by the United States on the Lebanese authorities to release Fakhouri, who holds an American passport, and the intensive contacts made by the US Ambassador in Beirut with Lebanese officials.”

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