BEIRUT — Lawyer and activist Rami Ollaik, who organized the latest bank holdup by two depositors at the beginning of the month, threatened on Wednesday to prosecute several judges if they don't end their strike and "get back to their work."
In July, a group of judges announced an open strike due to deteriorating living conditions and low salaries as the country suffers from an unprecedented economic crisis.
During a press conference with the other three people involved in the latest holdup, the two depositors and an accomplice, Ollaik said that if judges don't end their strike and make "righteous decisions," he'll be "forced to reveal the dirt and scandals of the judges."
"Some assistant judges are showing us files and we are ready to disclose them to the Lebanese people," he added.
Earlier in November, four people — including Ollaik and two depositors, one of whom was armed — infiltrated Crédit Libanais' Hazmieh branch to demand the return of the two depositors' funds. Despite successfully withdrawing $56,000, the four individuals spent all night at the bank engaged in negotiations with security forces and were eventually arrested at dawn the following day.
They were gradually released in the following weeks.
In his Wednesday press conference, Ollaik also accused the judges of being "compromised" to the banks and claimed that "there is nothing legally called 'retreating from jobs,'" referencing the terminology used by the judges to announce their monthslong strike. Ollaik threatened that, if the judges don't return to work, his association would file a lawsuit against them for "dereliction in their jobs."
During the press conference, Ollaik was accompanied by depositors Ali Sahili, a retired Internal Security Forces officer, and Ibrahim Beydoun, who complained of "harsh conditions" during their detainment.
"We don't know how we ended up alive," Ollaik said.
Ollaik is part of Moutahidoun ("United," in English) depositors' rights organization, which consistently threatens banks with violence if they don't allow clients to withdraw their own funds.
Catherine al-Ali, who is part of Moutahidoun and was also involved in the holdup, said during the press conference that her participation in the holdup was an "honor."
Banks have imposed de facto capital control laws on most depositors' funds since Oct. 2019, leading to the recent phenomenon of bank holdups and forced withdrawals by frustrated clients.