BEIRUT: MP Butros Harb discussed Wednesday with President Michel Sleiman the general prosecutor’s request that the lawmaker’s parliamentary immunity be lifted over statements the judge deemed as offensive to the judiciary and the president.
“Sleiman discussed ... with MP Butros Harb current events, the subject of parliamentary elections as well as the issue of lifting of his immunity and the reasons for this that was included in the request,” a statement from the president’s office said.
Lebanon’s General Prosecutor Hatem Madi surprised many Monday by requesting that Harb be stripped of his parliamentary immunity after he was accused of insulting Sleiman and the judiciary in recent remarks.
Harb, who has described the accusation as “funny”, says the judge’s request was linked to comments he made after Madi charged Mahmoud Hayek, a member of Hezbollah, last week with the July 2012 attempt on the politician’s life.
Harb said Tuesday he would file a suit against Madi for abusing his power to obstruct legal proceedings in the case of an assassination attempt against him.
Judicial sources told The Daily Star Monday that Madi sent a memo to Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi requesting the lifting of Harb’s immunity in a bid to prosecute him for offending the president as well as the judiciary.
Madi said in his memo that following charges against Hayek, Harb made the following remarks to several local media outlets: “The president’s intervention helped in settling the issue ... I thank the president for his efforts ... some judicial bodies were collaborating with Hezbollah and making relentless efforts to satisfy them at the expense of justice.”
Shortly after Harb’s announcement that he would sue Madi, the prosecutor said he would respond in a “civilized and legal manner,” without using insults.
Harb says he has asked Speaker Nabih Berri to hold a parliamentary session to vote on lifting his parliamentary immunity in order to be able to confront Madi.