BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Army says detained activist insulted military

This file photo shows Pierre Hashash speaking during a press conference in Beirut. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: The Army said Friday Pierre Hashash, whose “violent” detention sparked controversy earlier this week, has several legal cases against him including incitement against the military.

However, a source close to Hashash said the issue could be a personal dispute between the political figure and an Army officer.

In a statement, the Army said: “Hashash was brought under investigation over his stances against the Army on the eve of Independence Day, which harmed the reputation of the institution and the morale of its personnel.”

According to his lawyer, Basem al-Aam, Hashash was detained Wednesday in broad daylight and “severely beaten” by men in civilian uniform after they forced him out of his vehicle in the northern town of Batroun.

Hashash, who has run in parliamentary elections several times but never won, was transferred to the military police headquarters in Tripoli Thursday and will likely be tried in the military tribunal.

“Our concern is the way they treated him,” the lawyer said, adding that he still is unaware of the accusation that sparked Hashash’s arrest.

Under Lebanese law, the Army can detain someone without charge for 48 hours and can also extend detention time with the approval of the public prosecutor.

Hashash’s sister claims she saw her brother with a plastic bag over his head and “bloodied” as he stepped out of the Batroun Serail to be transferred to Tripoli.

“They had covered his head and were beating him a lot as he was already bloodied,” Noelle told The Daily Star.

“I call on the Army general to personally look into my brother’s case ... We, as a family, have always respected the military,” she said.

His friend, Emilio al-Zeer, also said that Hashash was beaten but had passed out when he attempted to defend himself.

Supporters of the political figure circulated a banner on Facebook asking for his immediate release from detention, which they say was over remarks he made against Army Gen. Jean Kahwagi and the military.

On his Twitter feed, Hashash has written several comments with regards to the heavy traffic on Nov. 20 as a result of the Army’s preparations ahead of Independence Day.

“The Army is a red line ... the military parade is a red light,” he wrote along with other comments that sources in Batroun say were deleted from his account.

The Army’s statement also said that Hashash has several legal cases against him including attacking and wounding a soldier, beating one of the people who detained him as well as inciting people to launch an online campaign “aimed at undermining the prestige of the Army and insulting it.”

His sister insisted, however, that the charges against Hashash were fabricated, repeating her appeal to Army head Jean Kahwagi.

Meanwhile, a source close to Hashash told The Daily Star that the whole issue could be a personal dispute between Hashash and an officer in the Army’s intelligence.

According to the source, Hashash received a call from a high-ranking officer this month asking him to tone down his rhetoric but Hashash rejected the request.

 

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