Lebanon News

Saqr dismisses reports of assassination plot against Rai

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai visits the the Maronite church in Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv May 26, 2014.REUTERS/Nir Kafri (ISRAEL - Tags: RELIGION)

BEIRUT:Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr dismissed Wednesday reports of a plot by a regional intelligence apparatus to assassinate Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai.

Earlier, security sources told The Daily Star that Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces arrested a suspect who confessed to cooperating with regional intelligence services in a plot to assassinate Rai.

Citing a security report by the ISF’s Information Branch, the sources said the suspect was arrested last week and referred to Saqr.

The prosecutor issued charges against him and referred him back to the Information branch for further investigation.

Speaking to The Daily Star Wednesday evening, Saqr confirmed the arrest. However, he said that the detainee turned out to be mentally unbalanced and that his confessions were unfounded. He was released later by authorities, Saqr said.

The police report said the suspect was taking photos of Rai’s hometown, the Metn town of Hamlaya, some 20 kilometers northeast of Beirut, in a prelude to an attempt to assassinate the patriarch.

The report said the suspect was sending the photos to his father and brother in south Lebanon via social media and that he confessed that his father was handling the coordination with the involved intelligence agency.

The sources also said that Rai was planning a visit to Hamlaya mid next month.

Rai is currently in Israel, having joined Pope Francis on his tour of the Holy Land, drawing criticism in Lebanon, which remains in a formal state of war with the Jewish state.

Rai’s visit is the first by the head of the Maronite Church to the Holy Land since the state of Israel was founded in 1948.





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