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The Special Tribunal for Lebanon sentenced Habib Merhi and Hussein Oneissi to life imprisonment Thursday for their roles in the bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Harriri and 21 others. The two men have been convicted of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and four other crimes. They are associated with Hezbollah, which has refused to turn them in to the authorities, leading to doubts the two will ever see prison. They were tried and convicted in absentia, as was another Hezbollah associate, Salim Ayyash in 2020. A fourth man charged in absentia by the court, Assad Sabra, was not convicted for lack of evidence. Rafik Harriri’s son, former Prime Minister Saad Harriri, responded to Thursday’s sentencing, saying “it is the clearest in terms of condemning Hezbollah as the party responsible for organizing and committing the crime, and the party cannot evade responsibility for handing over those convicted and carrying out punishment against them.”
Unsuccessful candidates in the 2022 parliamentary elections submitted 15 appeals to the Constitutional Council, seeking to have the court review or overturn results. Among those who filed appeals are journalist Jad Ghosn (Mount Lebanon II), former MP Faisal Karami (North II), and banker-slash-politician Marwan Kheireddine. The defendants in the cases are winning candidates and electoral lists. They will be immediately notified and have 15 days to respond. A court-appointed rapporteur will investigate over a period of up to three months.
A Lebanese corruption probe into central bank Governor Riad Salameh seems set to continue after a top court rejected a request from the judge in charge of the case to recuse himself. Top prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat referred the case to Beirut judge Ziad Abu Haidar last week, who promptly asked to be recused on the grounds that he had expressed an opinion on the case, potentially jeopardizing his perceived impartiality. The Beirut court rejected his request and Abu Haidar is now required to move ahead with filing charges against Salameh and other defendants, in line with the results of Ouiedat’s preliminary investigation into the file.
The families of the victims of the shipwreck in April that resulted in six confirmed deaths and left around 30 people missing will hold a press conference this morning in Tripoli to continue pressing the government to investigate the incident. They join the growing ranks of other “groups of families of victims,” such as those of the Beirut Port Explosion and the Tleil, Akkar explosion, as the body count arising from the state’s several crises continues to mount. Attempts to flee the country by boat have not stopped since the deadly April incident. Sixty-four would-be migrants were intercepted in early June, and 34 more were arrested attempting to flee by boat yesterday.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read article from yesterday: “22,111 Israeli military aircraft have violated Lebanese airspace since 2007.”
Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon sentenced Habib Merhi and Hussein Oneissi to life imprisonment Thursday for their roles in the bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Harriri and 21 others. The two men have been convicted of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and four other crimes. They are associated with Hezbollah,...