BEIRUT — Caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi on Tuesday authorized proceedings against the former director general of the Road Traffic Department (Nef'aa), Hoda Salloum, for "professional negligence," her lawyer Hadi Hobeish said in a televised interview on local channel Al Jadeed.
Hobeish, a former MP, said that Salloum "is among those who were most committed to discipline in her administration."
"If you want to prosecute every director general because bribes were paid in their administration, none of them will stay home," he added.
"We know that bribery exists in all administrations and ministries, and the crime of professional negligence can be applied to all state employees," he said, adding that if Salloum is to be tried, "she should not be the only one."
Salloum was arrested in 2020 on the basis of a search warrant issued by the public prosecutor at the Mount Lebanon Court of Appeal, Ghada Aoun. Many employees of the administration in charge of vehicle registration are also being prosecuted in a corruption case centered on the waste of public funds.
Salloum was also previously arrested in December 2019 and later released on bail in a case involving abuse of power and illicit enrichment. In July 2019, the Court of Auditors had pinpointed the lack of transparency in the management of parking meter operating contracts linking the National Directorate of Road Traffic to municipalities.
In addition, employees of the road traffic department announced Tuesday afternoon that they would strike until working conditions improve. They denounced "the lack of response to the repeated demands for the improvement of wages and benefits, and the fact that [their] institution is the only one that has been deprived of all social assistance, in contradiction with any principle of equality and justice."
The employees also point to "the departure of many employees and department heads working in various centers due to the ongoing investigations and arrests related to these investigations, which creates extreme pressure on the remaining employees due to the lack of manpower."