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Lebanon’s Battle Against Corruption Will Get Its Day in Court

Lebanon’s Battle Against Corruption Will Get Its Day in Court

Monday, 11 March, 2019 - 08:45
Lebanese women wave their national flag and hold placards as they take part in a protest in Beirut. (AFP file photo)

Lebanon’s newly-formed government has started taking executive action to drain the swamp, taking the fight against corruption a step beyond political and administrative planning.

With the number of high-profile defendants beginning to bulge in detention centers—insofar, corruption scandals have managed to expose many of the country’s security officers and public sector employees—Lebanon’s judiciary, investigative bodies and attorneys are hustling to clear through the mounting casefiles, most of which are related to drug crimes.

Justice Minister Albert Sarhan has drafted a roadmap for accelerating the processing of corruption-linked lawsuits and overcoming impediments facing the country’s judiciary, such as impunity enjoyed by public sector employees that require search warrants before state investigators can act.

Insider sources said that Sarhan held in-depth discussions with high-profile judiciary officials behind closed doors, where they agreed to restrict immunity enjoyed during “preliminary investigations in cases of crooked prosecutors.”

More so, the country’s justice system will also be keeping a close eye and looking into corruption exposés circulated by the media.

Local media has been recently riding the wave of anti-corruption popular sentiment, releasing investigative reports and scoops on judges, legal assistants, lawyers, officers and members of different state security systems being complicit in corruption cases.

“The war against corruption is an all-out one,” a judiciary source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The country’s justice system, which is entrusted with exercising authority to prosecute criminals and corrupt individuals, is responsible for holding corrupt officials in their midst, whether they are judges or employees, accountable,” the source said.

No accomplice must be spared, whether it be a “lawyer, security agent, doctor or any specialized professional whose reports and testimonies could affect the course of investigations.”

In a similar pursuit mounted against corruption, Mount Lebanon Attorney General Ghada Aoun called on bar associations and doctors to lift immunity off a number of lawyers and physicians involved in falsifying medical reports in order to prosecute them.

In one of the instances of corruption, the justice minister authorized the prosecution of six judicial aides suspected of receiving bribes in return for manipulating judicial files and criminal charges.

Ashraq Al-Awsat learned that a detained infamous drug smuggler offered authorities $600,000 in exchange for fabricating medical reports that claimed he was suffering from a fatal disease. The report led to his release, while the actual medical tests revealed he did not suffer from any sickness.

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