BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Death penalty requested for accomplice in Iraqi murder

An investigating magistrate on Tuesday recommended the death penalty for a Lebanese national who allegedly participated in the 1994 assassination of an Iraqi dissident in Beirut.

Walid Akoum also called for dropping murder charges against the three surviving Iraqi diplomats who allegedly masterminded or carried out the killing ­ Mohammed Kazem, Ali Darwish and Hadi Hassouneh ­ saying they enjoyed immunity.

In his indictment, Akoum said that George Terjian, 56, should be executed for killing Taleb Souheil Tamimi at his home in Ain al-Tineh, an incident that saw diplomatic ties between Lebanon and Iraq severed.

The three Iraqis were held in custody immediately after the crime, a move that Baghdad called a violation of international treaties regulating diplomatic relations.

A fourth diplomat, Khaled Khalaf, was also arrested in connection with the crime. Khalaf died of a heart attack in his detention cell, and his body was sent to Iraq.

The other diplomats were freed in 1997, after Lebanon and Iraq restored economic relations. Terjian was released on bail.

According to Akoum, the assassination was ordered by Iraq’s main intelligence agency because Tamimi, who also carried a Jordanian passport, was critical of the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Akoum said the evidence indicated that Terjian, a tailor and a friend of Tamimi’s, gave the victim’s exact address to Darwish and Khalaf, who allegedly planned the assassination.

Kazem and Hassouneh, who reportedly carried out the crime, went to the address and knocked at Tamimi’s door, claiming that they were bringing Tamimi shirts made by Terjian.

When Tamimi opened the door, Hassouneh reportedly shot him dead with a silenced handgun. The two then disposed of the weapon in Dora, according to the indictment.

But they allegedly dropped one of the shirts at the scene of the crime, giving investigators a link to Terjian and consequently to them.

The indictment said that Kazem and Khalaf, who were arrested outside the Iraqi Embassy in Hazmieh, admitted to the crime. They showed investigators where they dumped the gun, which was confiscated, along with some ammunition inside Khalaf’s home.

It said that Darwish and Hassouneh, who were arrested at the airport while trying to board a plane to Iraq, admitted that they planned the crime.

 
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