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AKKAR EXPLOSION

Military court sentences five defendants in bribery and smuggling case related to Akkar explosion

Military court sentences  five defendants in bribery and smuggling case related to Akkar explosion

Next to the site of the explosion in Tleil, the home of landowner George Rashid was torched by residents angered that the fuel had been stored on his land. (Credit: João Sousa/L’Orient Today)

BEIRUT — The Military Court issued a series of rulings on Friday in the cases of nine people, six of whom are Lebanese Army members, accusing of smuggling and taking bribes in a case related to the Aug. 15 fuel tanker explosion in Tleil, Akkar. The explosion of thousands of liters of illegally stored fuel during a late-night distribution killed 36 people and injured dozens.

Here’s what we know:

    • According to the NNA, the court found that three of the defendants had allegedly participated in smuggling cement, gasoline and diesel across the Lebanese-Syrian border and had bribed customs employees to “persuade them into a behaviour that is outside their work ethics.” The other six were accused of soliciting bribes in violation of military rules.

    • The court ordered hard labor for three years against four of the defendants in addition to fines ranging between LL10 million and LL200 million,and one and half years of labor for another defendant in addition to a fine of LL7 million. The court found four of the victims not guilty, citing lack of evidence.

    • Among those sentenced were defendants identified as George I. and Ali F. In August, Military Court Judge Fadi Akiki had charged George Ibrahim, the owner of the land where the fuel was stored, and Ali Sobhi Faraj for storing explosive material in an unsafe manner, despite their knowledge of the danger of the material. In a statement released after the explosion Ibrahim had claimed that the fuel tanks belonged to Faraj, who lives in the area of Wadi Khaled and who was at the time jailed on separate charges, and said that he did know what was in the tanks.

    • The Tleil explosion took place after the Lebanese Army reportedly discovered a store of some 60,000 liters of gasoline and 40,000 liters of diesel on the businessman’s property. While the army confiscated most of the fuel, a few thousand liters were left at the site. According to witnesses, late that evening, soldiers at the scene gave in to the pleading of local residents and began distributing the fuel, leading a large crowd to rush to the site, and amid the chaos that followed, the fuel ignited, causing the explosion.

    • In September, the cabinet decided to transfer the investigation into the explosion’s cause from the Military Court to the Court of Justice. A judicial source told L’Orient Today that the investigation in that case is still ongoing. 

CORRECTION: The headline of an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that four defendants had been sentenced. Five were sentenced.Correction: The headline of an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that four defendants had been sentenced. Five were sentenced.


BEIRUT — The Military Court issued a series of rulings on Friday in the cases of nine people, six of whom are Lebanese Army members, accusing of smuggling and taking bribes in a case related to the Aug. 15 fuel tanker explosion in Tleil, Akkar. The explosion of thousands of liters of illegally stored fuel during a late-night distribution killed 36 people and injured dozens.Here’s what...