BEIRUT: Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn slammed those politicians who have attacked the Army and the military tribunal over the Kweikhat incident, accusing them in a statement issued Sunday of launching such campaigns for political gain.
“We will not accept that the unfortunate Kweikhat incident be taken advantage of in order to involve the Army and the military judiciary in political campaigns aimed at targeting the government,” Ghosn said.
He also condemned what he described as “using the Army and the military tribunal for political purposes, by saying that Syria was behind the release of the officers” involved in the killings in the northern region of Akkar.
The Military Court of Cassation recently released on bail three Lebanese Army officers detained over the May shooting of Sheikh Ahmad Abdel-Wahed, a vocal critic of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and companion Hussein al-Mereb at an Army checkpoint.
The move drew heavy criticism from Future Movement MPs. In remarks Sunday, Future Movement MP Khaled Daher said that freeing the officers was aimed at instigating chaos in Lebanon, which he called the goal of the Syrian regime.
“[The release] is aimed at inciting chaos and tension in the streets of Akkar, Tripoli, the north and the Bekaa, and among Sunnis because the pope is coming in 10 days. The Syrian regime seeks to create chaos in Lebanon,” he told a crowd in Akkar during a rally in support of the Syrian uprising.
“Inciting tension would disrupt the visit to Lebanon by the most important Christian figure in the world, allowing the Syrian regime to say to the world: look at Muslim terrorists and how they're sowing instability,” Daher added.
The officers were released early in July on bail but were re-arrested on July 16. Their re-arrest sparked street protests by Army supporters, who demanded their release.
The defense minister also condemned accusations that Syria is behind the release of the officers.
“Such talk is completely rejected. The military judiciary is independent; no political or military authority intervenes in its affairs and it does not take orders from domestic or foreign parties,” Ghosn said.
He added that the release was not the first in which officers are freed while their trials are ongoing, stressing that the move was a purely judicial matter.
“Due to our keenness on [protecting] the security of the nation, we are surprised at the attempt to use threats and intimidation to tamper with the country's security,” Ghosn said.
“Politicians should distance themselves from the Army and the military tribunal because the circumstances are critical and cannot withstand security threats,” he added.