BEIRUT: Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi announced Saturday that the judiciary had begun interrogating the suspects in the bombings of Tripoli’s mosques, expressing confidence in its ability to reach a just judgment on the matter.
“On this occasion, I announce to the families of the martyrs, to my people in the city, and to all Lebanese, that the judiciary investigator started yesterday investigating the detainees,” Rifi said in a ceremony on the first anniversary of the bombings that targeted two mosques in the northern city.
“We promise you that we will follow up on this case,” he added, “until the criminals and the instigators receive their punishment.”
At least 42 people were killed and more than 400 wounded when twin car bombs hit Al-Taqwa Mosque at the Abu Ali roundabout and the nearby As-Salam Mosque on Aug. 23, 2013. The mosques suffered extensive damage from the blasts. Officials from the Tripoli-based pro-Syrian Arab Democratic Party were charged with the attack.
Rifi said that the bombings were part of a wider conspiracy targeting the city, stressing that the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch “discovered the criminals in a record speed.”
“I am confident that the judiciary council that is in charge of the mosques case will deliver justice,” he said. “Yes it will, and it will hold accountable the murderers, whoever they are.”
He described Tripoli as a city of peace, piety and coexistence, stressing on moderation as the best weapon for survival.
“From Tripoli, the city of peace, piety and coexistence, we say that our monotheistic religions carry all the values of humanity, morals and moderation.
“We are the sons of this country, with its Muslims and Christians, and we will go on defending it so that it remains a final nation for all the Lebanese.”
Before the two bombings, the northern city had experienced several years of intermittent clashes between residents of the mostly Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh and those from the Alawite-majority Jabal Mohsen area. The clashes were largely put to a halt when the government and the Army adopted a wide security plan for the city earlier this year.
The Arab Democratic Party, whose leader Rifaat Eid is a supporter of Bashar Assad’s rule in Syria, originated in the 1970’s from a student organization called Alawite Youth Movement.