Lebanon News

Saqr: Interpol’s rebuff of Syrian warrants a blow to Assad, allies

Future Movement MP Oqab Saqr speaks during a press conference in Istanbul, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. (The Daily Star/Stringer)

BEIRUT: Future bloc MP Oqab Saqr, currently at the center of allegations of arming Syrian rebels, said Friday that Interpol’s rejection of Syrian arrest warrants against him and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri had dealt a heavy blow to the regime of President Bashar Assad and his allies in Lebanon.

“It seems that the blow which Assad and his regime have been dealt by Interpol was heavy and constituted an additional setback to this collapsing regime and some of its Lebanese followers,” Saqr said in a statement.

“Interpol has confirmed in an official letter that the arrest warrants sent by the [Assad] regime were invalid like the state of the internal and international collapse that the architect of the warrants and his regime are experiencing,” he added.

The International Criminal Police Organization, Interpol, could not be reached for comment on the Syrian arrest warrants issued this week against Hariri, Saqr and Louay Meqdad, a spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army, over allegations of arming and funding Syrian rebels.

However, Al-Mustaqbal newspaper said Interpol has rejected the Syrian arrest warrants.

Hariri has scoffed at the warrants, calling Assad a “monster” and saying that the embattled president would face trials for “shedding blood in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq, the killing of children and the annihilation of the Syrian people.”

Syria issued arrest warrants Tuesday for Hariri, Saqr and Meqdad over charges of providing weapons and funds for “terrorist groups” in Syria.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Interpol’s office at the Internal Security Forces received the warrants at midday Tuesday, adding that copies had been sent to all Arab states.

However, a judicial source said that Lebanon would likely ignore the Syrian warrants. Saqr said Interpol had dismissed the Syrian arrest warrants as worthless.

“Interpol has sent a clear message to Assad saying: Your Don Quixote warrants are not worth the ink used to write them and your reliance on forgeries of the Lebanese misleading [media outlets] are no longer useful at a time when the axis of deceit is facing a resounding collapse,” Saqr said.

Addressing Assad, he added: “Your days in power are numbered according to your closest supporters.” Saqr was referring to a statement by a Russian official.

Saqr accused the OTV station of Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun of continuing its forgery by reporting fabricated and false news attributed to Reuters which, according to OTV, allegedly quoted a Syrian dissident as saying that Saqr was sending arms to the Syrian opposition.

Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, head of the Future parliamentary bloc, also dismissed the Syrian arrest warrants as worthless. “In fact, this case [the arrest warrants] is baseless. The second thing is that we must know that this regime in Syria has practically lost its Arab and international legitimacy as a result of the stances taken by the Arab League as well as the 130 states which have declared their recognition of the Syrian opposition and also Interpol’s stance on this issue,” Siniora told reporters at his office in Hilaliyeh, east of Sidon.

“I think we must not give this matter any significance at all. [The warrants] have no legal or political value,” he added.

On the day Syria issued its arrest warrants, Lebanon’s Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghida set Jan. 14 as a date for an interrogation with two senior Syrian officers, Gen. Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syria’s national security bureau, and an officer identified as Brig. Gen. Adnan over their alleged role in a terror plot to destabilize Lebanon. The two men were indicted along with former minister Michel Samaha in August over the plot said to have been aimed at stoking violence in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, a Lebanese lawyer appointed by the Syrian Embassy in Beirut said a lawsuit against Saqr would be finalized next week. “I am finalizing the lawsuit and I will present it Monday,” Rashad Salameh told The Daily Star. He added that the case relied solely on audio recordings aired by local media outlets of Saqr allegedly discussing supplying Syrian rebels with arms.

Salameh, a former Kataeb official, was appointed by Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim Ali to file the suit against “anyone who participated, incited, funded and sent arms [to Syrian rebels] and were actual accomplices in shedding the blood of Syrians.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 15, 2012, on page 1.




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