Lebanon News

Sayyed's lawyer calls for Rizk to be put on trial

BEIRUT: Lawyer Akram Azouri, attorney of detained former General Security chief Jamil al-Sayyed accused Justice Minister Charles Rizk Tuesday of exerting pressure on the judiciary and said he should be put on trial. "The Lebanese Parliament should apply article 19 of the Lebanese Constitution and have Rizk brought to justice so as to liberate the judiciary from unjustified pressures," a statement issued by Azouri's office said.

Sayyed - along with former security chiefs Ali al-Hajj of the Internal Security Forces, Raymond Azar of Army Intelligence and Mustapha Hamdan of the Presidential Guards - has been detained since 2005 for alleged involvement in the February 2005 assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In an interview with Voice of Lebanon radio station on Saturday, Rizk said the four former security chiefs were detained upon recommendations made by former head of the investigative commission, German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis. Rizk added Mehlis' successor Serge Brammertz did not "counter or revoke Mehlis' decision."

"Once the decision taken by the international probe committee is annulled, the Lebanese judiciary can then take the appropriate decision concerning the officers," Rizk said.

Brammertz had said in his latest reports that the detainment of the four former security chiefs was the responsibility of the Lebanese judiciary.

In a telephone interview with The Daily Star on Tuesday, Azouri explained that since Rizk was a minister he benefited from immunity, "and thus can't be sued in front of an ordinary tribunal like ordinary people are."

"Filing a lawsuit against him should pass through the prime minister or the Parliament and a special tribunal is consequently created to try him," Azouri said. "Since I've resorted to Premier Fouad Siniora back in June 2006 and he has still not reported back, I'm now forced to resort to the legislative power."

He said the Parliament could order that a special tribunal be created to try Rizk "once one fifth of the Parliament, which corresponds to roughly 25 MPs, sign a petition for that purpose."

"Article 19 of the Constitution clearly stipulates that once 25 MPs sign the petition, the Parliament Speaker is then forced to hold a session to discuss the petition and establish the special tribunal," he added. "The Cabinet is not supposed to attend the session as stated in the Constitution."

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has repeatedly said he will not convene Parliament as long as the Siniora government remained in power.

Azouri accused Rizk of infringing "the Constitution, the concept of the separation of powers, and his personal duties."

Sources close to Rizk refused to comment on Azouri's statement, and described it as "worthless and redundant."

"Responding to such allegations is a waste of time," the sources said. 

Mehlis told LBCI television last week that he still considered the detainment of the four former security chiefs legal.

"As an observer, I think their detainment is fully legal," Mehlis said.





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