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Lebanon: Calls to put security forces charged with torturing Syria refugee on trial in criminal court

Relatives wait on the Lebanese side of the Arida Border Crossing with Syria on September 23, 2022, for the arrival of the bodies of the shipwrecked Lebanese, who drowned when a boat they boarded sank off Syria's coast. [FATHI AL-MASRI/AFP via Getty Images]
Relatives wait on the Lebanese side of the Arida Border Crossing with Syria on September 23, 2022, for the arrival of the bodies of the shipwrecked Lebanese, who drowned when a boat they boarded sank off Syria's coast. [FATHI AL-MASRI/AFP via Getty Images]

Four human rights groups are calling on Lebanese authorities to try security force members charged in the torture and murder of a Syrian refugee in an ordinary criminal court.

The accused are due to be tried in a military court which Human Rights Watch (HRW) says lacks independence and whose judges have been appointed by the defence minister.

As military and security serving officers, military court judges do not have to have a law degree or legal training.

Thirty-year-old Bashar Abed Al Saud was allegedly tortured to death after he was arrested on 30 August this year by one of Lebanon's intelligence agencies.

According to his family, security agents entered Shatila camp in Beirut and arrested Bashar without presenting a judicial arrest order.

Several days later images of Bashar's body circulated on social media and a state security officer and three other security members were charged with torture.

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According to rights groups, crimes that members of the judicial police commit whilst assisting the public should fall under the jurisdiction of the ordinary judiciary, according to both international law and Lebanon's Code of Criminal Procedure.

Bashar did not have a lawyer present during his interrogation and his family did not know where he was until 3 September when they received a call to say that his body was at the Tebneen Public Hospital.

A forensic report concluded that Bashar died of "the stoppage of the central nervous system due to intense pain and suffering from violence and severe beatings, which ultimately led to the stopping of his heart and blood circulation."

It also found that there were "signs of several burns all over the body, many signs indicating the use of whip or an electrical wire in the upper extremities, back, chest, abdomen and lower extremities up to the feet, and swelling in the testicles."

"Al Saud's death during his detention at State Security requires a fair and comprehensive investigation in front of the ordinary judiciary, as the military justice system cannot bring justice for his family," said Ghida Frangieh, head of litigation at Legal Agenda, one of the four human rights organisations that signed the joint statement.

Other signatories include HRW, Amnesty International and MENA Rights Group.

READ: Lebanon: rising discrimination against Syrian refugees amid bread shortage

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HRWInternational OrganisationsLebanonMiddle EastNewsSyria
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