BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Lebanon charges Samaha, Assad security adviser for terror plots

Former Lebanese Cabinet minister Michel Samaha. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Judge Sami Sader charged former Information Minister Michel Samaha and Syrian National Security Bureau head Ali Mamlouk Saturday for plotting to assassinate political and religious figures in Lebanon and carry out terrorist attacks.

The accusation also included a Syrian army officer identified as Brig. Gen. Adnan.

Sader, the government’s deputy commissioner at the Military Tribunal, also charged the three men with creating an armed group aimed at undermining the authority and prestige of the state.

Additionally, he accused them of planning to incite sectarian clashes through terrorist attacks with explosives that Samaha transported to Lebanon and stored after taking possession of them from Mamlouk and Adnan.

He also accused the three men with working with Syria’s intelligence to carry out aggression against Lebanon. Samaha was also accused of possessing weapons without a license.

A judicial source told The Daily Star that the charges, if proven, could lead to the defendants being sentenced to hard labor or death.

Sader referred the case to Military Judge Riad Abu Ghida, who will pursue the investigation and question Samaha.

Earlier in the day, Acting State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud referred Samaha's case to the Military Tribunal following a preliminary investigation by the Internal Security Forces' Information Branch.

Meanwhile, a senior security official told The Daily Star Friday that the evidence against Samaha is compelling and includes incriminating video footage.

“The case against Samaha constitutes a clear and irrefutable condemnation, following his confessions of involvement in the transportation of explosives from Syria to Lebanon for use in terrorist attacks in areas in the north,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Samaha was arrested by the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch Thursday on suspicion of being involved in a plot to carry out bomb attacks in Lebanon on behalf of the Syrian regime.

Samaha's defense lawyer, Malek Sayyed, warned Saturday that his team would suspend its attendance of the interrogation of Samaha, unless the judiciary holds security agencies responsible for media leaks.

“The judiciary should summon [ISF head Ashraf Rifi and head of Information Branch Wisam Hasan] for questioning, otherwise we will announce that we will suspend our participation in the interrogation sessions with Minister Samaha,” Sayyed told reporters outside the Military Tribunal.

Sayyed said that the media leaks had convicted Samaha in the court of public opinion even before the trial, and that they are “a clear violation of the secrecy of the investigation.”

If the accusations against him by the court are approved by the Military Tribunal, Samaha, the two time information minister and an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, will be charged with plotting to carry out "terrorist" attacks, possession of arms and explosives and exposing state security to danger.

 

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