BEIRUT: State Prosecutor Judge Saeed Mirza said investigations by the Internal Security Forces (ISF)’s Information Branch of former Lebanese Army General Fayez Karam on charges of spying for Israel, and his subsequent arrest, were in conformity with governing laws.
Mirza’s memo was issued in response to a Parliamentary inquiry submitted by Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) MP Nabil Nicholas to the government, which in turn referred the inquisition to the judiciary via the Justice Ministry.
“The Information Branch of the ISF is considered, in accordance with article 38 of the penal code, a judicial police authority, subject to the authority of the state prosecutor,” the memo said.
Nicholas had argued that investigations by the Information Branch were in violation of laws since the establishment of the branch was illegitimate.
A senior FPM official, Karam was arrested in August on suspicion of spying for Israel’s notorious intelligence agency, the Mossad.
“Investigations and inquiries carried out by the Information Branch, which aimed at verifying that former General Fayez Karam dealt with the Israeli enemy, were in line with the same process carried out by the branch to uncover 28 agents and spies for Israel during the last six month,” Mirza said.
Mirza’s memo added that investigations which followed Karam’s arrest were extended legally, in line with article 47 of the penal code upon the demand of the state prosecutor given the sensitivity of the case.
“The minutes of investigations were later referred to the government commissioner at the military court, which issued an arrest warrant on August 11 after which investigations were attended by Karam’s lawyer awaiting the release of an indictment by the first investigative military judge,” the memo said.
In response to Mirza’s statement, Nicholas said the state prosecutor lacked the prerogatives to respond to the inquiry submitted to the government.
“I submitted an inquiry to the Cabinet and an employee like Mirza has no authority to address an MP in the press and thus should be subject to disciplinary action,” Nicholas said.
According to governing laws, the judiciary should respond to the inquiry in a memo filed to the Justice Ministry and the government should in turn inform the lawmaker.
In his memo, Mirza noted that Karam’s lawyer attended the investigations after eight days of his client’s arrest rather than 22 days as claimed by Nicholas.
Contrary to Nicholas’ claims, Mirza’s memo said security forces searched Karam’s residence after he had confessed to ties with Israel to confiscate criminal evidence upon the approval of the state prosecutor in accordance with article 47.
Mirza denied Karam was subjected to torture or any kind of pressure to confess.
“His lawyer requested to meet him and his request was immediately met and [Karam] met his family and lawyer on a nearly daily basis,” Mirza said.
On the issue of Karam’s health, the state prosecutor said the former general suffered cardiac problems prior to his arrest and said the Information Branch fully assumed its responsibilities by appointing doctors asked for by Karam.
FPM officials say political motives were behind Karam’s arrest by the Information Branch, an apparatus close to Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a political foe of FPM leader MP Michel Aoun.
Tensions have flared between FPM leader Michel Aoun and the Information Branch since Karam’s arrest. Aoun argues that Karam was innocent and was subject to torture during investigations. The Information Branch, meanwhile, says it owns footage of Karam confessing to ties with the Mossad as well as admitting plans to accompany Aoun on a meeting with Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in order to discover his location.