BEIRUT — US-based law firm Arnold & Porter issued a statement Monday evening denying any connection of their client, Bahaa Hariri, to the rape and sexual assault allegations against his brother, former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
On March 20, two women filed a complaint filed in a New York federal court suing Saad Hariri for “rape, assault, and batter[y]." Both women are former employees of Saudi Oger, a construction company owned by Saad Hariri that had an aviation branch. The alleged assaults took place from 2006 to 2009, while Saad Hariri was serving as a member of the Lebanese Parliament.
According to the complaint, which L'Orient Today reviewed, Bahaa Hariri, alongside other members of the Hariri family, "aided and abetted" Saad Hariri's sexual misconduct.
The complaint, which details the alleged violent sexual assault of the two women by Saad Hariri, also claims that his brother Bahaa "knew that Defendant S. Hariri engaged in the above-mentioned criminal behavior and facilitated this unlawful scheme."
On Monday, Arnold & Porter addressed L'Orient-Le Jour directly: "The article, published yesterday in your newspaper, which recounts the facts of the US trial against Mr. Saad Hariri and his responses to the charges, completely misstates and mischaracterizes Mr. Bahaa Hariri's name."
"It should be noted that Mr. Bahaa Hariri sold his shares in the capital of Saudi Oger in 2007 and never had a role in supervising the employees of the aviation branch of the said company," the statement added.
"Since our client had no role in the company and no connection with the plaintiffs, it is totally unfair and inconceivable to name him in the said case with a supervisory role over the employees of the said company. In fact, our client sold the shares in the capital of the company in 2007 and has no knowledge of the facts described in the case. Including our client's name only weakens this case, which has already been dismissed twice by the New York State Court," the law firm concluded.
According to the civil complaint, Bahaa Hariri was in an upper management position at Saudi Oger when the alleged assaults took place.
This is the third time the women have attempted to sue Saad Hariri in New York, according to a report by the New York Post.
"Two previous lawsuits in state court were either dropped or dismissed by a judge," the New York Post wrote.
In a March 25 statement, Saad Hariri’s media office said, “For the third time, these two anonymous plaintiffs, who do not reside in the United States and do not have any relations with it, are filing a lawsuit full of completely false and unacceptable accusations aimed at provocation and slander against Saad Hariri, who in turn has no ties to the states."
"Hariri will defend himself in court," the statement concluded.
The plaintiffs have requested a trial by jury.
Correction: This article has been amended to reflect that Saudi Oger was a construction company that had an aviation branch. A previous version stated that it was an airline.