BEIRUT: Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi dismissed Tuesday media reports that said the bodies of two soldiers recently killed in the Bekaa border town of Arsal had been mutilated.
"There is no truth to the news about the use of sharp instrument to mutilate the bodies of the soldiers,” Kahwagi told reporters after meeting with President Michel Sleiman.
According to the military, Captain Pierre Bashalani and Sergeant Ibrahim Zahraman were killed in a Feb. 1 ambush by gunmen on the outskirts of Arsal when an army unit was in pursuit of Khalid Hmayyed, a man wanted on terror charges. Hmayyed was killed in the incident.
The head of Army Intelligence, Brig. Gen. Edmond Fadel, has said that the bodies of the two dead soldiers were put on display “in celebration,” and that other soldiers were beaten up.
Meanwhile, Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda referred the Arsal case to Military Judge Fadi Sawwan and urged him to begin interrogations.
Judicial sources told The Daily Star that Sawwan will examine the case and interrogate Wednesday the only two suspects in Army custody.
Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr Monday charged 34 people over the incident in Arsal.
Saqr also requested to summon Arsal’s mayor Ali al-Hujairi as a witness in the case.
The men are charged with the killing of Zahraman, 32, and Bashalani, 31; burning and disabling military vehicles, as well as damaging both public and private property, according to judicial sources.
Kahwagi also said Arsal is not “besieged” by the Army.
Arsal residents have complained of the stringent measures taken by the Army since the attack on the military.