BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Military judge interrogates former Lebanese minister over alleged terror plot

Former Lebanese Cabinet minister Michel Samaha. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: A military judge ended Monday his interrogation of former Minister Michel Samaha, who along with a high-ranking Syrian army official was formally charged in a terror plot to destabilize Lebanon.

Judicial sources told The Daily Star that a decision has yet to be announced by Military Judge Riad Abu Ghida following more than three hours of questioning.

Samaha was taken out of a military court prison to Abu Ghida's office at 11 a.m. in the presence of his lawyers Youssef Finyanous and Malek Sayyed.

Following the session, which lasted until 2:20 p.m., Samaha was allowed to see his wife and three daughters at Abu Ghida's office.

Sayyed told reporters that media "leaks in the past two days were very harmful to the course of the investigation.”

He would not elaborate.

The charges against Samaha, a longtime ally and friend of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the chief of Syrian National Security Bureau Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, threaten to further strain the already tense ties between Lebanon and Syria following a series of deadly incidents on the shared border of the two countries.

Samaha’s reported confessions to his involvement in the terror plot sparked calls by some March 14 politicians for Lebanon to sever ties with the Assad regime.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Sunday that the results of the investigation would determine the stance to be taken in order to defend the country’s sovereignty.

Samaha, a former MP and two-time information minister, was charged Saturday by Lebanon’s Military Tribunal with plotting to assassinate political and religious figures in the country and planning terrorist attacks.

In an unprecedented move, Mamlouk and a Syrian brigadier general, who was identified as Brig. Gen. Adnan, were also included in the indictment.

Judge Sami Sader, the government’s deputy commissioner at the Military Tribunal, also charged the three men with “creating an armed group aimed at committing crimes against the people and undermining the state’s authority.”

He also accused the three men of planning to “incite sectarian fighting through preparations to carry out terrorist attacks with explosives” Samaha transported to Lebanon and stored after taking possession of them from Mamlouk and Adnan.

Sader also charged the three men with “planning to kill religious and political figures and working with the intelligence of a foreign state [Syria] to carry out aggression against Lebanon.”

Samaha was also accused of possessing unlicensed weapons.

 

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