BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia is seeking the repatriation of the body of Majid al-Majid, the leader of an Al-Qaeda linked group that claimed responsibility for last year’s deadly attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, caretaker Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi told The Daily Star Tuesday.
“A request from the [Saudi] Embassy has been filed to the Foreign Ministry and referred to the Justice Ministry asking that Majid al-Majid’s body be repatriated,” Qortbawi said.
The minister said the request was sent after Majid’s brother informed Saudi authorities he wanted the body returned to Saudi Arabia.
Qortbawi added that the request was referred to acting State Prosecutor Judge Samir Hammoud for consideration.
Judicial sources told The Daily Star that the request to repatriate Majid's body would likely be approved.
Majid, who was wanted by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, died at a military hospital in Beirut over the weekend.
The Saudi national headed the Abdallah Azzam Brigades, an Al-Qaeda offshoot that claimed responsibility for the Nov. 19, 2013, suicide bombings outside Iran’s Embassy in Beirut that claimed the lives of 30 people, including a diplomat.
Iran voiced Tuesday its readiness to assist Lebanon investigate Majid’s death.
“Iran is ready to cooperate with Lebanon to perform an autopsy to find out the exact reason behind the death of the terrorist Majid al-Majid,” ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said at a news conference in Tehran, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported.
She was speaking at a news conference over Tehran dispatching a fact-finding mission to Lebanon to look into Majid’s death.
She said Iranian Justice Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, in a letter to Qortbawi, expressed Tehran’s readiness to send a judicial team to help with the investigation into Majid’s death.
Afkham said that following the bombing outside the Iranian embassy, Tehran followed up on the case and held talks with Lebanese officials.
“Then Majid, the main culprit of the terrorist attack, was apprehended,” Afkham added. “But he died days after his arrest.”
Qortbawi, speaking to The Daily Star, said it was still not confirmed whether an autopsy would be carried out on the body of the Saudi national.
A source at the Saudi Embassy, speaking to The Daily Star, also dismissed reports that an autopsy would be carried out on Majid’s body.
“We will rely on the report of the medical examiner and we will not request an autopsy for Majid’s body,” the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star.
Earlier this week, Qortbawi, citing a medical examiner’s report, said Majid died after a sharp deterioration in his health.
Majid’s death came only two days after Lebanese authorities verified his identity through DNA tests.
He was arrested on Dec. 26 by the Lebanese Army in Mount Lebanon and was undergoing kidney dialysis at the military hospital in Badaro, Beirut.
Afkham said Tehran has also announced its willingness to help arrest all those involved in the embassy bombing that killed 30 people, including an Iranian diplomat.
“Iran maintains its right to follow up on the case,” Afkham stressed.