BEIRUT — The unarmed depositor who held up a branch of Crédit Libanais in Chehim, in the Chouf region, on Wednesday to claim his own funds for his wife's health expenses left the bank on Wednesday evening after obtaining $42,500 in cash and an unspecified amount in Lebanese lira, the Mouttahidoun (United) activist group announced.
Walid Hajjar had stormed the bank's premises, dousing it with petrol and threatening to set it on fire. Accompanied by his two brothers-in-law and two sisters-in-law, the client demanded part of his savings — $50,000 out of a total of $242,000 — to cover his wife's cancer treatment.
Hajjar left the bank for the Chehim police station to be interrogated by the Internal Security Forces. Crédit Libanais Bank did not file a complaint against him, according to Mouttahidoun.
Contacted by L'Orient-Le Jour, the prosecutor general at the Court of Appeal of Mount Lebanon, Ghada Aoun, confirmed that she had sued Walid Hajjar. She referred his case to the first investigating judge of Mount Lebanon, Nicolas Mansour.
On Wednesday, the Mouttahidoun group said the depositor held up his bank after failing to find a solution "through the judicial system" that would allow him to access his funds. Hajjar's son told local media that his father "sold the land he owned, his car and his wife's jewelry in order to pay the hospital bills," leaving him without funds to continue his wife's treatment for lung cancer.
These holdups by customers demanding their own funds have become common in recent months, amid Lebanon's economic crisis. On Tuesday, an 87-year-old depositor managed to retrieve about $5,500 in cash from her account after staging a holdup at a Bank Audi branch in Beirut's Selim Salam district.