TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Former Tripoli MP Ahmad Hbous is in critical condition after accidentally shooting himself in the head while cleaning his gun Wednesday, police and medical sources said. Tripoli police chief Brig. Gen. Bassam Ayoubi and the director of the Albert Haykel Hospital, where Hbous was taken, both confirmed that the former lawmaker was still alive, but sources told The Daily Star that his condition remained critical, with his face unable to be operated on and his body not responding to treatment.
A source at the hospital earlier said that Hbous, 73, had died during surgery, but this turned out to be false.
Sources said neighbors heard a gunshot between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. Wednesday morning. One of his maids found him in his bedroom on the floor, the gun nearby, and proceeded to call the ambulance to take him to the hospital. No other family member was present in the house.
“While he was cleaning his handgun in his room, he shot himself accidentally,” Hbous’ daughter told police. She said the bullet pierced his nose and penetrated his brain. Security sources said Hbous was taken to Haykel Hospital in the northern region of Koura around midday with a severe brain hemorrhage.
Hbous was first elected to Parliament in 1996 to represent the Alawite seat in Tripoli. He won 123,418 votes, the highest percentage in the history of parliamentary elections in the north. He was re-elected in 2000 and served in Parliament until 2004.
He was married to Souad Mrash, who died more than two years ago, and has four children, Mohammad, Salem, Sherine and Khadija.
Sources said Hbous had been deeply affected by the death of Souad and hadn’t been socially active for a long time. He rarely had any visitors, but neighbors said he remained friendly and helpful in times of need.
Hbous had also been involved in a dispute with his nephew, Ali Omran, who reportedly embezzled $1.5 million. Omran showed up at the hospital Wednesday but was turned away by Hbous’ family, sources said. Hbous’ daughter Sherine is married to Richard Haykel, director of the Albert Haykel Hospital.
A staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the former MP is one of the most prominent figures among the Alawite sect.
He ran on former Interior Minister Sleiman Frangieh’s electoral list in the 2000 elections and also supported some opposition demands; namely holding parliamentary elections on time and an international probe into former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination.
Hbous lobbied during the 1960s and 1970s for the Alawite sect’s right to participate in politics before the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War. The offshoot sect of Islam was integrated into Lebanese political life with the formulation of the Taif Accord – the peace deal that ended Lebanon’s 15-year Civil War.
Taif stipulated that Alawites be granted two seats in Parliament (representing Akkar and Tripoli), two representatives to head governmental institutions and one diplomatic post.