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The Lebanese Army yesterday detained dozens of Syrian men allegedly involved in a scuffle Wednesday night in Mansourieh, near Beirut, an army spokesperson told L’Orient Today. “Around 160 Syrians got into a big fight over a personal dispute,” Mansourieh mayor William Khoury told L’Orient Today, explaining the army’s intervention. The arrest follows weeks of aggressive policing of Syrian refugee communities, increased deportation of displaced Syrians and a rise in anti-Syrian refugee rhetoric. Last month, an army official told AFP that the rise in deportations was linked to a lack of capacity in detention centers — which have repeatedly been described as dismal and overcrowded. Among a series of new restrictions targeting Syrian refugees is the “immediate” deportation of Syrian detainees. Rights groups regularly warn that repatriating refugees to Syria puts them in danger.
Mount Lebanon Public Prosecutor Ghada Aoun filed a lawsuit against BDL governor Riad Salameh, his wife Nada, actress Stephanie Saliba and LGB bank, a judicial source told L’Orient Today. Aoun asked Mount Lebanon First Investigating Judge Nicolas Mansour to issue arrest warrants against the trio. The judicial source said Aoun obtained documents proving the charges after a raid on Salameh’s home in 2022. The same source added that Aoun’s charges against Saliba and the Lebanon and Gulf Bank (LGB) are linked to the actress’s real estate assets. Last December, Aoun questioned Saliba, who is thought to be linked to Salameh’s corruption, after the actress’s brief arrest at Beirut’s airport. “Did I make a mistake when I opened the Salameh [investigation] … and discovered the waste, the abuse of power, the falsification of the BDL budgets?” Aoun said in a tweet last Saturday after the disciplinary council of magistrates dismissed her — a decision which will not take effect until the Higher Judicial Disciplinary Commission rules on her appeal. Salameh has repeatedly denied wrongdoing while facing several local and international investigations into his alleged corruption.
Two people, one of them just 16 years old, died in Roumieh prison, the Internal Security Forces (ISF) said in a statement yesterday. The ISF said they have issued an investigation into the death of a 16-year old incarcerated for alleged theft and a 32-year-old Palestinian man held on a drug-related charge. “The situation in the prisons is difficult and cruel,” president of the Association of Justice and Mercy, Father Najib Baaklini told L’Orient Today last December amid reports that overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions and limited access to clean water had led to the spread of diseases, notably skin diseases, among inmates. In 2021, prisoners in Roumieh self-mutilated to protest the poor conditions in the prison, a video that circulated on social media showed.
Marada Movement leader and Hezbollah’s favored presidential candidate Sleiman Frangieh met yesterday with Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari. The details of the meeting were not made public, though Frangieh described it as “cordial and excellent” and an advisor close to Frangieh told L’Orient Today that “positive contacts” have recently taken place between Frangieh and Riyadh. Last week, Bukhari said his country regards the presidential election as an internal Lebanese matter and would not “veto” any candidate. A day before Frangieh and Bukhari’s meeting, Kataeb leader Sami Gemayel reiterated his refusal of any candidate backed by Hezbollah, which he described as “trying to impose its candidate.” Gemayel claimed the opposition “first want to prevent Hezbollah's takeover of the presidency and then suggest a name.” Earlier this year, after 11 election sessions proved inconclusive and with no 12th vote scheduled, Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri disclosed his support for Frangieh. Hezbollah’s secretary general soon followed suit.
Local media claimed that a Lebanese man detained in the United Arab Emirates was tortured to death last week while Lebanese and Emirati diplomatic authorities declined to comment on the incident. Lebanese news sites claimed that Emirati authorities buried Ghazi Ezzeddine in the UAE after he died on May 4 under torture during an interrogation, two months after his arrest. The reports did not specify why Ezzedine was in custody. Last year, a lawyer representing Lebanese gynecologist Richard Kharrat told L’Orient Today her client was released after a month in custody for tweets deemed offensive to Emiratis. In February 2021, then-General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim announced the release of 15 people held for alleged ties to Hezbollah and claimed 15 others would be released soon after.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Has France turned the page on Sleiman Frangieh?”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz