BEIRUT — The Lebanese Center for Human Rights and several Lebanese officials reacted on Saturday to the news of the death of a Syrian detainee, Bashar Abdel Saoud, who was allegedly tortured to death this week during his interrogation by the State Security Service, calling the agency to account for the death.
On Aug. 31, the detainee had been arrested and transferred to detention in Bint Jbeil, in South Lebanon, along with other suspects.
"He died three hours after his arrest and was subjected to severe torture and shocks that led to a heart attack," a judicial source told AFP.
According to this source, members of the security forces wanted to "obtain a confession from the deceased" suspected of "leading a cell" affiliated with the jihadist group Islamic State (Daesh). Images seen by the French news agency show the body of Bashar Abdel Saud covered in bruises and gashes. Traces of torture were also visible on the bodies of his fellow detainees, also suspected of belonging to ISIS. After examining the remains, the government commissioner at the Military Court Fadi Akiki requested the detention of the lieutenant in charge of the Bint Jbeil center and four other officers.
"According to the forensic doctor's report, the Syrian detainee died after being tortured during his interrogation," the LCHR wrote in a tweet Saturday. "The doctor noted that the victim was violently tortured during his detention at the headquarters of the General Directorate of State Security in South Lebanon, resulting in a heart attack," the NGO added. It referred to photos that "illustrate monstrous torture," including "whippings, bruises and severe injuries."
The LCHR also recalled that "this is not the first time that a security service protects itself behind the pretext of terrorism when accusations of torture are made against it," while Friday the State Security had only commented on this case by stating that the deceased detainee was a member of the Islamic State group. It also deplored the non-application of Article 65 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes torture, and Article 47, which allows detainees to be accompanied by a lawyer during their interrogation after their arrest. The NGO also demanded that "a committee of forensic doctors be appointed to examine the remains and that a security agency not affiliated with State Security be appointed to investigate the case. It also stressed the need for the perpetrators of the crime" to be held accountable and not to escape punishment under any circumstances, in accordance with Article 65 of the Penal Code.
Earlier Saturday, the president of the LCHR Wadih al-Asmar demanded that "a security service other than the State Security immediately arrest those who conducted the interrogation of the victim."
"If the command [of this service] is unable to control the brutality of its agents, it would be better if they resigned," he said.
Political leaders reacted to the revelation of the death under torture. Caretaker Environment Minister Nasser Yassin called what happened to the Syrian detainee "an abject crime that violates human rights."
"The Prosecutor General's Office is called to conduct a serious investigation under the aegis of an investigating judge, who is not military, and to respect the standards of investigations in the context of crimes of torture," he pleaded.
Forces of Change MPs also pleaded for accountability.
Firas Hamdan, called for the case to be transferred to the "Court of Justice for investigation, follow up and prosecution.
He also called for "the perpetrators of the crime to be hit with the most severe sanctions" and that the role of the Committee for the Protection of Torture be activated through the adoption of implementing decrees.
The MP finally raised the need to apply Article 47 of the Penal Code. A claim also brandished by his colleague Melhem Khalaf, who is also the former president of Beirut Bar, who demanded that "anyone involved in the death of this detainee is held accountable."
"Just as we spoke out against everything the Lebanese-Syrian security regime did during the Syrian occupation, we are speaking out today against the establishment of a police state in Lebanon," MP Cynthia Zarazir wrote on her Twitter account. "We call for the opening of the files of violations and torture in prisons and other places of detention," she added.
Despite the passage of a law in Lebanon in September 2017, the security services have already been accused of using torture. In March 2021, Amnesty International denounced arbitrary detentions and "acts of torture" inflicted on some 20 Syrian refugees, including minors. The NGO highlighted "cruel and discriminatory treatment" by the security services.
BEIRUT — The Lebanese Center for Human Rights and several Lebanese officials reacted on Saturday to the news of the death of a Syrian detainee, Bashar Abdel Saoud, who was allegedly tortured to death this week during his interrogation by the State Security Service, calling the agency to account for the death. On Aug. 31, the detainee had been arrested and transferred to detention in Bint...