BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army said Thursday that some media reports about a judge beaten up at a military checkpoint are inaccurate.
"Information released by some media outlets concerning the scuffle between a judge and [soldiers deployed at] an Army checkpoint in the Msharafieh neighborhood [of the] southern suburbs [of Beirut] included information that contradicts the facts and is exaggerated, particularly in terms of the judge being abused by soldiers,” the Army said in a statement.
The statement reiterated the Army’s commitment to “protect the dignity” of the judicial cadre and all citizens as they pass through military checkpoints.
It also stressed that soldiers must carry out their essential duties.
The Army said the judiciary is handling the complaint.
Judicial sources had told The Daily Star that Judge Bilal Badr was beaten up at a Lebanese Army checkpoint in the southern Beirut suburb of Shiyah late Monday.
They said Badr was stopped at the checkpoint when soldiers observed his car had tinted windows. Tinted windows are illegal unless special permission has been obtained from the Interior Ministry.
Badr allegedly refused to pull over at first, telling the soldiers "I'm a judge." He then failed to provide proof of license for either the tinted windows or the firearm he was also allegedly carrying.
A physical quarrel ensued, ending with the soldiers briefly locking Badr in an armored personnel carrier before releasing him.
Upon his release, Badr filed a complaint with the military court. The three soldiers allegedly involved in the abuse are being questioned.
Meanwhile, the Higher Judicial Council voiced reservations over the incident.
In a statement the council clearly indicated that the abuse was the practice of individuals and not a standard policy carried out by the Lebanese Army.
“This is why we see it is best to keep the incident within its boundaries,” the statement said.
“The law has set a punishment for every impermissible act ... so a verdict alone shows the truth about what happened and puts things in the right perspective,” the Council added.
The judicial sources said the council's statement came in response to the Army.
However, the sources added that both the military and the council came to a settlement that the issue be addressed within normal judiciary procedures so as not to complicate things any further.