BEIRUT: Investigative Judge Ghassan Oueidat Tuesday recommended a three-year sentence for a prominent Druze businessman on charges of fraud and breach of trust.However, the judge found Bahij Abu Hamzeh innocent on charges of forging documents and using the counterfeit papers along with impersonation to pose as another person, a judicial source told The Daily Star.
The charges were based on a lawsuit filed by Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt and the Safa football team, which is sponsored by the Druze leader.
The lawsuits filed by the football team accuse Abu Hamzeh of breach of trust and embezzlement. Jumblatt, however, accuses him and Hussein Bdeir, a Shiite businessman, of selling him land that did not actually exist.
Abu Hamzeh was arrested last month over these charges. He has served before as the head of Safa’s board of trustees, was in charge of Jumblatt’s real estate endeavors and managed his private properties and was the former head of the Association of Oil Importing Companies.
Ties between Abu Hamzeh and Jumblatt deteriorated recently, with the PSP leader relieving Abu Hamzeh of his duties after around 30 years of service. Abu Hamzeh also recently resigned from his post as the head of Safa’s board of trustees.
In his decision, Oueidat said Abu Hamzeh, the husband of talk show host Mona Abu Hamzeh, deposited $5 million belonging to the football team in his personal account.
Oueidat also referred the case to a criminal judge in Beirut for trial.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 28, 2014, on page 4.