BEIRUT: Ex-General Security head Maj. Gen. Jamil Sayyed launched a broadside at the heads of the Internal Security Forces Tuesday, saying recent leaks were part of the political campaign against him.
However, he again refused to deny claims that he had accompanied ex-MP Michel Samaha when he transported explosives from Syria to Lebanon.
“The Internal Security Forces and the Information Branch are once again resorting to erroneous investigations and false witnesses,” he said during a news conference at a hotel in Beirut. “But this time the U.N.’s International Independent Investigation Commission is not here to support them.”
Sayyed was referring to the UNIIIC, which was established to probe the assassination of late former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.
He said former State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza, head of the ISF Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi and the head of the ISF’s Information Branch Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan should be put on trial.
The former security chief urged the president, the government and the judiciary to summon Milad Kfouri, who according to security sources has reported Samaha, to appear in court and confront the former Information Minister. Kfouri resides outside Lebanon.
“The right to confrontation should be applied in the Samaha case because all the other evidence – including footage and recordings – remain secondary if Samaha and Kfouri are not confronted in court,” Sayyed explained. “Confrontation will allow judicial authorities to assess which one lured the other into carrying out the scheme.”
Sayyed, who accused Kfouri of serving as an informant for the Information Branch, said that if it was proven that Kfouri enticed Samaha, “he and the security body that stands behind him will be tried.” He said Mirza, Rifi and Hasan had facilitated Kfouri’s escape outside the country. Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda resumed the interrogation of Samaha Tuesday over his involvement in terror plots. A judicial source told The Daily Star that the interrogation mainly focused on reports, the day before, that security authorities had acquired “incriminating evidence” that Sayyed accompanied Samaha on his enterprise. The source added that Abu Ghayda was examining the possibility of summoning Sayyed “in the next few days.”
“I could have been in the car and not known about explosives but I also could have not been present in the car but known about explosives,” Sayyed said, responding to the accusations. “Samaha told Judge Riad Abu Ghayda in a hearing on Aug. 16 that I was not informed about the details of the plan at any stage and that I did not know about the explosives during my trips from Syria to Lebanon.”
Sayyed said he was prepared to appear before Abu Ghayda if he was summoned, adding that he would reveal to the judiciary the details of his trips and presence in Damascus. “But I will not go if I learn about the summoning in the media,” he said. “It has to be made in a private manner that respects my time and my rights.”
He said that Rifi and Hasan were behind the leaked transcripts of Samaha’s interrogation, which were published by Al-Joumhouria newspaper in August.
“The judiciary shouldn’t try Al-Joumhouria for filing the transcripts, which are actually a scoop that any other media outlet would have sought,” Sayyed said, adding that Rifi and Hasan should be questioned instead.
“President Michel Sleiman, in his capacity as the guarantor of the Constitution and the law, and the state prosecutor should directly investigate with Rifi and Hasan for being behind the leaks,” he said.
“The president and the state prosecutor are also required to prepare a complete judicial file against those two [Rifi and Hasan] so they can be tried.”
Sayyed said that accusations against him were used as leverage. “They’re offering some kind of a deal here,” he added. “They will stop circulating leaks against me if I drop all the lawsuits I filed against them and if I abandon my calls for false witnesses in the Rafik Hariri case to be tried.”
The former head of General Security was incarcerated for four years in 2005 in connection with the assassination of Hariri. He blames his arrest on the testimonies of false witnesses recruited by Rifi and Hasan.
Sayyed, who announced he would run as an independent candidate on the list supported by Amal and Hezbollah in the northern Bekaa in the 2013 parliamentary polls, slammed Sleiman for congratulating security bodies such as the ISF and the Information Branch for carrying out “security achievements.”
He said Sleiman cannot “distribute congratulations” when he is incapable of holding the heads of security and judicial bodies accountable.
Even though Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Interior Minister Marwan Charbel issued separate rebuttals, Sayyed mentioned that both were well aware of the practices of Rifi and Hasan. He added that Mikati had informed Charbel that it was high time to lay them off. “But the unrest in Syria has made Mikati change his mind,” said Sayyed. “Rifi and Hasan have now become symbols that this government cannot get rid off.” – With additional reporting by Youssef Diab