Lebanon News

Suspect in attack on Karami convoy under arrest: Charbel

A burning car, which was part of Lebanese Minister of Sports and Youth Faisal Karami's convoy, is seen after it was ambushed by gunmen in the northern city of Tripoli January 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Stringer)

BEIRUT: Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Tuesday that an individual suspected of involvement in last week’s attack against Youth and Sports Minister Faisal Karami is under arrest, adding that the main perpetrators are not yet in custody.

“One of the wounded, who is suspected to be involved in the attack, is now in prison, but the main perpetrators remain at large,” Charbel told The Daily Star.

Last week, gunmen opened fire on the minister’s convoy in Tripoli, wounding 11 people. Former Premier Omar Karami, the minister’s father, played down the attack, saying the incident was a “mistake.” He added that no lawsuit would be filed in the case.

For his part, Karami said he doesn’t think he was personally targeted.

The Cabinet, which convened Tuesday at the Grand Serail under Prime Minister Najib Mikati, praised the stances of Former Prime Minister Karami and his son, saying they prevented strife in Tripoli.

Sources told The Daily Star that most ministers demanded that the attack on Karami be referred to the Justice Council, but that Karami opposed the demand and called for controlling arms proliferation across Lebanon.

Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun said after chairing the weekly meeting of his parliamentary bloc that the attack on the convoy was a crime against the executive branch because Karami is a minister.

The Cabinet tasked Charbel and Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn with taking immediate security measures to preserve security in Tripoli and across Lebanon. It also asked Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi to work on accelerating the trial of Islamist detainees and to process all summons issued for individuals who allegedly took part in security incidents.

The gunmen who opened fire at Karami’s convoy were on their way to join a protest to demand the release of the Islamists.

Speaking to reporters after the Cabinet session, Information Minister Walid Daouk said that the Cabinet decided that Qortbawi would follow up on the case of George Abdallah with his French counterpart Christiane Taubira and Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour would work with France’s Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli to win the long-term prisoner’s release as soon as possible.

Supporters of Abdallah, who has been in French prison since 1984, have demanded that the government form a ministerial committee to press his case with French authorities.

Daouk said that the Cabinet did not touch on a strike that teachers and public sector employees are planning to stage Wednesday.

The Cabinet tasked the Council of Development and Reconstruction with studying a project to prepare studies to build four prisons across Lebanon. Mikati called for a Cabinet session on the 29th.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 23, 2013, on page 3.




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