BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman insisted Tuesday that the kidnappers of Syrian, Turkish and Kuwaiti nationals be pursued and brought to justice.
“It is important that investigations continue so that the perpetrators and those behind the kidnappings are pursued because sooner or later they won’t be able to continue hiding from justice and law,” Sleiman said during a meeting with the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Lebanon Abdel-Aal Al-Qannaei, according to a statement from the presidential palace.
Sleiman stressed that the kidnappers should be punished for their crimes.
He congratulated Qannaei over the release Monday evening of a Kuwaiti citizen kidnapped over the weekend in east Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
Nevertheless, Sleiman also called for intensified efforts to secure the release of the 10 remaining Lebanese hostages in Syria.
“Efforts should multiply toward the release of all the kidnapped to bring them back to their loved ones and their families,” he said.
Sleiman expressed hope that the short-lived kidnapping of Kuwaiti citizen Issam al-Houty “would not affect the relationship with Kuwait, which has always stood by Lebanon’s side and still provides assistance in various fields.”
Qannaei conveyed the Kuwaiti Emir’s appreciation to all those who helped in efforts to win Houty’s release, foremost Sleiman.
Lebanon’s Meqdad clan kidnapped more than 20 Syrian nationals in Lebanon in recent weeks in an attempt to use them as a bargaining chip to swap them for their relative, Hassan Meqdad, who was kidnapped in Syria Aug. 13.
The clan released all but one Turkish and four Syrian hostages Saturday, in order to press for the release of Hassan. Another Turkish national was kidnapped by a Shiite group to press for the release of the Lebanese hostages in Syria.
The flurry of releases coincided with the release of one of 11 Lebanese hostages in Syria, Hussein Ali Omar. The Free Syrian Army has said it kidnapped the 11 Lebanese pilgrims because they belong to Hezbollah. The FSA demanded Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah apologize for comments he made in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Following the spate of kidnappings of Syrian and Turkish nationals along with threats by local groups to target Gulf citizens in tit-for-tat abductions, Kuwait and other Gulf countries issued travel advisories asking their citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon. Kuwait has also said that most of its citizens have been evacuated.