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Lebanon: 8 high-ranking officers charged with corruption

December 3, 2020 at 1:42 pm

Former Lebanese army chief, General Jean Kahwaji in Beirut, Lebanon on 22 November 2008 [ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images]

Eight high-ranking Lebanese officers have been charged with corruption, Al Jazeera reports.

The eight include former army chief General Jean Kahwaji, ex-intelligence heads Edmond Fadl and Camille Daher, as well as five other top security officials.

A judge has accused the officers of exploiting their high-ranking positions in order to siphon state funds into their personal accounts.

An unnamed source was cited by Al Jazeera as claiming the eight officers had used “their influence and [accepted] bribes” to accrue their ill-gotten fortunes.

The source later said the suspects were also accused of “bringing officers into the Lebanese army in exchange for large sums of money and providing services to influential people in return for personal benefits.”

The charges were based on preliminary investigations, sparked by suspicions over riches which could not have been amassed solely with their state salaries or benefits.

The accused are set to be tried in a civilian court, rather than the military tribunal, because they have breached Lebanon’s ‘illicit enrichment’ law, Al Jazeera added.

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The charges come as domestic anger is rising over the judiciary’s failure to prosecute anyone over the 4 August Beirut blast, which devastated the city, killing over 200 and injuring thousands more.

Massive blast rocks Beirut, Lebanon - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Massive blast rocks Beirut, Lebanon – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Investigating judge Fadi Sawan has not yet charged security chiefs, who were detained in the days after the blast, despite documents showing many were aware highly explosive ammonium nitrate was stored unsafely in Beirut’s port but had failed to remove it.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also called for a crackdown on corrupt Lebanese politicians and accountability for the Beirut explosion in an Op-ed published on Monday.

“Even though senior Lebanese political and security officials knew about the presence of recklessly stored ammonium nitrate in Beirut’s port, none have been held accountable yet in a domestic investigation riddled with due process violations and allegations of political interference,” the article read.

Meanwhile, last month Beirut’s port custom chief was arrested as part of a drug-smuggling case involving a Saudi Arabian prince.

Badri Daher, who had been in police custody since early August, was arrested on suspicion he accepted bribes, wasted public funds and misused his position, allowing the prince, who was involved in drug-smuggling, to leave Lebanon without paying a multi-million dollar fine.

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