BEIRUT

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‘Incriminating evidence’ links Sayyed to Samaha plot

Sayyed speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Security authorities have acquired “incriminating evidence” that ex-General Security head Maj. Gen. Jamil Sayyed accompanied former MP Michel Samaha when he transported explosives from Syria to Lebanon, a senior security source said Monday. “The evidence was taken from a DNA sample that was analyzed after being taken from Samaha’s vehicle, which was transporting 24 different explosives to be distributed in different areas in the north [of the country],” the source said.

Sayyed refused to deny or confirm the report. He said he was going to wait until his meeting with Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda, while maintaining that the accusations were politically motivated.

Sayyed slammed Internal Security Forces chief Brig. Gen. Ashraf Rifi and Information Branch head Brig. Wissam Hasan, saying the two were behind the reports and were trying to implicate him in the Samaha case to achieve political gains. Samaha is being probed on terror charges.

“This is the fourth time they [Rifi and Hasan] have tried to drag my name into the Samaha case,” Sayyed told The Daily Star.

“I have repeatedly called on them to submit the information they own to the judiciary rather than resort to press leaks,” he added.

Samaha, who is close to the Syrian government, has been charged with plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in the country, assassinations of religious and political figures.

The accusations are also directed at the head of Syria’s Intelligence Gen. Ali Mamlouk and another Syrian army officer. Samaha was also charged with transporting explosives from Syrian into Lebanon.

In his confessions to the Internal Security Forces Information Branch published in Lebanese daily Al-Joumhouria shortly after his arrest on Aug. 10, Samaha allegedly said Syrian President Bashar Assad wanted bomb attacks in Lebanon.

A judicial source, who also requested anonymity, said Monday that both the interrogation with Samaha and DNA tests of samples from the seats of the former minister’s car proved Sayyed was in the vehicle during the trip.

“Investigations with Samaha proved that the person who was with him while transporting explosives from Syria to Lebanon is Jamil Sayyed,” the source said.

The military prosecutor referred the results to Abu Ghayda, who is presiding over Samaha’s case, the source added.

According to Sayyed, the information security bodies owned “relied on the form rather than the substance.”

“My name has not figured once in the Samaha confessions unlike the names of several senior Syrian officials,” said the retired major general. “The Investigative Judge has questioned Samaha and is well aware of the names of those involved.”

Sayyed was one of four high-ranking, pro-Syrian generals who was arrested in 2005 in connection with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The four were released nearly four years later without charges or trial.

Sayyed accused the ISF and the Information Branch of using “secondary material” in a bid to exploit the case politically.

He added that the two security bodies ought to be providing “evidence and information to convince the judiciary rather than the general public.”

“Whether I was with Samaha in his car or not, I am not denying or confirming it, but I don’t think Samaha’s car would fit two donkeys,” he said. – With additional reporting by Youssef Diab

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 11, 2012, on page 3.

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