HERMEL, Lebanon: The brother of the Baalbek municipal treasurer found dead in the heart of the city’s ancient ruins has accused “local mafias” of being behind the incident. Khaled Solh told mourners at the funeral Thursday that his brother, Ali Mohammad Solh, had paid the price of rampant corruption in the city, comparing the municipality to the cave of the 40 thieves in the famous story of Ali Baba from “1,001 Nights.”
“These mafias steal your daily bread by the sweat of your brow and from your childrens’ mouths,” he said, urging the crowd not to remain silent despite the “conspiracies” targeting them all.
Solh also said that those responsible for his brother’s death did not represent a particular family, political group or religion community, but were being protected by parties he would not specify.
The funeral procession was attended by local religious, political and community leaders, including Baalbek Mufti Sheikh Khaled Solh, Qaimaqam Omar Yassine, Future Movement coordinator Hussein Solh and Progressive Socialist Party Vice President Dureid Yaghi. Members of other political parties were also present, but Solh concluded his remarks by saying that officials from the municipality were not welcome at the funeral, and no one from the municipal council was observed in attendance.
Sources close to Solh said he held the municipality responsible for his brother’s death, while other sources maintain that suicide remained a strong possibility.
Official sources said Solh, whose body was found at the entrance to the hexagonal courtyard of the ancient temple of Baalbek, had died around 4 p.m. from a single bullet to the chest.
Sources familiar with the investigation said the bullet entered his heart and exited at a sharp angle from the back of his ribcage. The path of the bullet showed signs of cauterization, indicating the shot had been fired at point-blank range.
Initial reports claimed Solh had committed suicide, and some sources maintained that the gun found with his body had not been fired, leading to speculation that his murder had been staged to look like a suicide.