Lebanon News

Harb files lawsuit against Syrian officials over Tueni’s killing

MP Butros Harb speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: MP Butros Harb filed a personal lawsuit against Syrian officials mentioned in Al-Arabiya’s allegedly leaked documents over the assassination of journalist Gebran Tueni, he said Tuesday.

“On behalf of Tueni’s family, I have filed a lawsuit against Syrian officials mentioned in the documents to verify their involvement in the crime,” Harb told reporters during a press conference.

Last week, Al-Arabiya television released what it claimed were leaked communiqués between Syrian intelligence and the state's leadership.

In the alleged documents, references were made to Hezbollah and its alleged activities with the Syrian security apparatus.

Harb said the authorities should deal “seriously” with the leaked files. “The dates mentioned in the document and the day of the assassination cannot be a coincidence. The matter should be addressed very seriously,” he said.

The lawmaker added that he will ask for Tueni’s case to be referred to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and a number of similar cases.

“We will resort to the STL to demand that it includes Tueni's assassination with the other cases it is looking into,” said Harb.

He also said that if the international tribunal accepts the case, then the Lebanese judiciary should halt its activities on it.

“In case the STL doesn’t take the case, we will ask the Lebanese judiciary to issue arrest warrants in absentia against the Syrian officials mentioned in Al-Arabiya documents and then refer them to Interpol,” he added.

The MP said that he has refrained from resorting to the Lebanese Cabinet in this case as it has previously proved futile on such issues.

“Given our experience with the Lebanese state's failure in bringing those linked to Syria and Hezbollah to justice, we refrained from resorting to it,” Harb said.

Expressing hope that those who killed Tueni would be revealed in the coming days, Harb said it was regrettable that investigation into the death has been met with obstacles which have thwarted the unveiling of the truth.

Harb said Hezbollah should be more cooperative in the investigations, instead of simply denying accusations about his involvement in assassination attempts.

“I wish Hezbollah had explained why it had refrained from handing in suspects among its members to the STL instead of simply issuing statements in which it denies accusations,” said the opposition MP.

Tueni, 48, and three others were killed on Dec. 12, 2005 when a car bomb targeting the MP's vehicle exploded in a Beirut suburb, just hours after the MP returned from France.

Tueni's assassination was the 13th such attack since the massive blast that killed former Premier Rafik Hariri in February 2005.





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