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Lebanon News

Rahme laid to rest, military prosecutor launches investigation

Rice and flowers were thrown at Rahme’s coffin in Bsharri.

BSHARRI, Lebanon: The northern town of Bsharri laid to rest Monday a man killed at a Lebanese Army checkpoint the day before, as the military prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into the incident.

The funeral procession of 38-year-old Charbel Albert Rahme began at Batroun hospital and was showered with rice and flowers in villages as it made its way to Bsharri.

Rahme’s mother, relatives, local officials and priests gathered at the entrance of Bsharri to receive his body, which was taken to Mar Saba Church in a hail of gunfire.

Leading the services, Tripoli’s Maronite Bishop George Bou Jaoude questioned why young people in the country were dying “without cause.”

“We ask, ‘Why did they die in our country?’ Maybe because we no longer know the value of a human being,” Bou Jaoude said.

Rahme was killed by soldiers at an Army checkpoint in Madfoun. The Army said Rahme refused to stop at the checkpoint although soldiers fired warning shots.

“Death is the fate of all of us but of natural causes ... the death of young Charbel is painful, but we have to trust the judiciary,” Bou Jaoude added.

The bishop said that the Army remains the only guarantor of the country’s security “and we all stand by its side,” as he called for controlling the use of arms across Lebanon. “These arms ... are being used without deterrence. It is horrific.”

Bsharri MP Elie Keyrouz and a host of locals and security officials attended the funeral.

After the services, he highlighted the need to pursue investigations and punish perpetrators, reiterating his call for Rahme’s relatives to exercise restraint.

Separately, the military prosecutor’s office launched preliminary investigations into Rahme’s killing under Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr.

A judicial source told The Daily Star that a soldier from the checkpoint was arrested. The source added that Rahme had been convicted of a crime in the past but the offense was so minor that it did not require prison time.

For her part, Bsharri MP Strida Geagea telephoned Army Commander General Jean Kahwagi and called for investigations.

Separately, the Army criticized self-styled “Partisans of the Army” Monday, who emerged following criticism directed against the military over the recent killing of two Muslim preachers at a checkpoint in north Lebanon.

“The Army is not looking for partisans from this or that [political] camp,” an Army statement said.

“Instead, the Army believes the entire Lebanese [people] are its partisans, as it supports everybody and serves them without discrimination,” the statement added.

Prominent Sheikh Ahmad Abdul-Wahed and his companion Sheikh Hussein Merheb were killed at an Army checkpoint in Akkar earlier this month, driving some outraged MPs in the district to attack the Army and call for its withdrawal from Akkar.

“Some newspapers and websites have lately carried statements attributed to the so-called “Partisans of the Army” which included some views contradicting well-known military ethics and the institution’s national and fundamental principles,” said the statement.

“The Army command calls on those responsible to stop publishing these statements which offend the role of the [military] institution,” it concluded.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 29, 2012, on page 3.

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