BEIRUT — Mount Lebanon Public Prosecutor Judge Ghada Aoun has "charged the director-general of the Internal Security Forces, Maj. Gen. Imad Othman, with obstructing the implementation of a judicial warrant and breaching the duties of his job," a judicial source confirmed to L’Orient Today on Wednesday.
Here’s what we know:
• The charge follows allegations that the ISF impeded efforts Tuesday to apprehend central bank Governor Riad Salameh and bring him in for questioning under a subpoena issued by Judge Aoun. Salameh had failed to appear for questioning on three occasions in relation to a suit filed against him by lawyers representing the civil society group The People Want to Reform the System, which accuses the Banque du Liban governor of embezzlement, wasting public funds, illegal enrichment and money laundering.
• Imad Othman is expected to appear next week in front of Beirut's first investigating judge, Nicolas Mansour, as part of the investigation into Salameh, according to local TV channel LBCI.
• The Future Movement’s media coordinator Abdeslam Moussa tweeted Wednesday that President Michel Aoun had ordered Ghada Aoun to file a complaint against Othman. In his tweet, Moussa made his party’s opposition to the move clear, labeling the president as “a president who slaughters the republic.”
• The Future Movement later issued a statement reinforcing its stance on the matter. “The attempt to undermine Maj. Gen. Imad Othman will not be upheld no matter how hard they try to do so,” the statement reads.
• The party claimed Othman was carrying out his duties by “protecting a public figure that the security forces were assigned to protect” — a reference to the alleged obstruction of efforts by State Security on Tuesday to find and apprehend Salameh.
• The ISF on Tuesday evening issued a statement denying any interference in State Security’s efforts, saying“ the force's mission is only to protect the central bank governor and [it] does not have the authority to prevent the implementation of official memorandums.”
• The Future Movement’s Wednesday statement continues, “The Media Office of the Presidency of the Republic will say that these reports are just fabrications to undermine [Aoun], and we [affirm] that Judge Aoun … is moving by direct order from the Presidency of the Republic and for purposes that are no longer hidden from the public.”
• The Future Movement statement adds that targeting the leadership of the ISF “in this crude and suspicious manner is unacceptable by all standards,” especially since the leadership of the security forces was credited with the “great achievements” of uncovering sabotage and terrorism networks, and capturing gangs involved in kidnappings, robbery and smuggling.
• The statement concludes by saying that “Judge Aoun does not act on her own initiative, and the Lebanese must search for [those] masterminding efforts to plunge the country into more chaos, in the corridors of the palace where Gen. [President] Aoun resides.”