SIDON, Lebanon: “Our judges, we promise you that we will remain true to the oath and to your blood.” These were the words of the head of the Lebanese Higher Judicial Council Jean Fahed, who spoke at a memorial ceremony Tuesday to mark the 15th anniversary of the assassination of four judges in Sidon.
“This is an occasion to confirm that the judiciary [system] will not be terrorized,” Fahed added.
Judges Hasan Uthman, Walid Harmoush, Assem Bou Daher and Imad Shehab were shot dead on June 8, 1999. They were attending the trial of two Iraqis and a Palestinian at the South Lebanon Criminal Courthouse in the old Justice Palace in Sidon when two individuals opened fire through the rear window of the courtroom, killing the judges and wounding five others.
The commemoration, held at the Criminal Courthouse in south Lebanon’s new Justice Palace, was attended by various officials, including State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud and head of the Judicial inspection Department Akram Baasiri.
Fahed said that investigations into the case remained ongoing but questioned “when the truth would be revealed and the criminals punished.”
Despite promises made by judicial figures to find those responsible for the assassination, there has so far been little progress.
“If the judiciary is not tough enough in uncovering the identity of those who assassinated its protectors, who will then protect the country and defend the unjust?” Fahed said.
We can use this occasion to substitute blood with life, he said, and as a chance to double our work to achieve justice and enforce the rule of law.
Representative of the south’s Bar Association Mohammad Shehab also stressed the wounds inflicted on the judicial community by the crime.
“We still sense the harshness and atrocity of this memory,” he said. “After 15 years, we still haven’t achieved the justice for judges, who died for its sake.”
The head of the south’s Criminal Court, Judge Roula Jadayel, said the four would be remembered.
“The sacrifices of the four judges will only result in further sacrifices by other judges and hard work aimed at achieving truth and justice,” she said.
Jadayel also pointed to the development of the south’s judicial courts, highlighting the hard work and competency of the employees.