BEIRUT —Following an accusation by the local newspaper Al Akhbar on Friday that “an officer and agents of the State Security Service tortured a Syrian detainee during interrogation and beat him to death,” judicial and security sources confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour that a lieutenant was taken into custody for interrogation, on the orders of the government commissioner at the military court Judge Fadi Akiki.
The general directorate of State Security said in a statement that the deceased detainee allegedly confessed to belonging to a terrorist cell affiliated with the Islamic State group, and that he had pledged alliance to them. The statement did not give details about the time of arrest or death, and said it had immediately referred "the incident" to the judicial authorities.
Akiki went to South Lebanon on Friday morning and examined the body of the detainee.
“He died under torture following a heart attack, during an investigation conducted by elements of State Security,” a judicial source told L'Orient-Le Jour.
After examining the body, Akiki requested the detention of the lieutenant in charge of the Bint Jbeil, South Lebanon State Security Center.
The magistrate also ordered the detention of other officers from the same regional office, as well as their colleagues who handled the transfer of the detainee from Beirut to the south of the country.
An alleged member of the Islamic State
For its part, the state security service said that the man found dead had previously been arrested and interrogated after being identified by members of the Islamic State as one of their "associates," adding that during his interrogation, "he confessed that he belonged to the Islamic State, that he was one of its fighters and that he had pledged allegiance to them." The security service did not give details about the time of arrest or death. In its statement, it said it had immediately referred "the incident" to the judicial authorities.
In its Friday edition, the daily al-Akhbar said the Syrian was arrested on August 25, the same night he was subjected to torture, without specifying the date of death. The newspaper accused security officials of "trying to cover up the incident, claiming that the detainee died of an overdose." The Islamic State was officially expelled from Lebanon during an offensive by the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah in Aug. 2017, but sleeper cells of the jihadist group are known to have still maintained a presence in the country. Authorities regularly announce arrests of suspected members of the jihadist organization.