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Jumblatt laughs down Syrian charge of ‘defaming’ nation

  • MP Walid Jumblatt attends a ceremony in the Chouf village of Brih, Saturday, May 17, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt has ridiculed the Syrian legal notices accusing him and a Lebanese journalist of undermining Syria’s reputation.

“It would have been more eloquent if the lawsuit was filed in Damascus instead of Latakia, so that it went along with the nature of the accusation and its gravity and seriousness, especially given that the Syrian state – eager to maintain the state of law and institutions – is preparing for the largest democratic electoral process in history,” Jumblatt said sarcastically in a statement Friday.

Syria’s presidential election, scheduled for June 3, has been ridiculed by the opposition and its supporters.

Jumblatt, an outspoken critic of President Bashar Assad’s regime, said that he was waiting for Syria to send him a list of the expenses of the lawsuit, as the process stipulates.

“And I will not forget to add this lawsuit to the file of other cases; I will make a catalog out of them and distribute it to friends for free!”

The Criminal Court in Latakia issued legal notices against Jumblatt and Lebanese journalist Fares Khashan in a lawsuit dating back to 2006, when Syria’s military court filed a case against Jumblatt and “others revealed by investigation.” The defendants are accused of “defaming” the state by blaming Syria for a series of bombings and assassinations in Lebanon in 2005.

In 2006, there were arrest warrants out for Jumblatt, Khashan and MP Marwan Hamade.

Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi meanwhile said he referred the two legal notices to the Justice Ministry’s Legislation and Consultations Committee, asking for its opinion over the presence of two mistakes in form and content.

Jumblatt added that he never intended to undermine the Syrian state, saying that was why he called for a political solution to rescue what remains of Syria “after the Assad regime committed murders and crimes and caused the displacement of millions inside and outside Syria and detained hundreds arbitrarily.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 24, 2014, on page 3.
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