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Mount Lebanon Judge Joelle Abou Haidar shuttered child care association “village de paix et d'amour” for alleged sexual abuse of children entrusted to the NGO, embezzlement of donated funds, forging adoption papers and other crimes. Abou Haidar referred the case to the public prosecutor, who has the jurisdiction to make arrests, lawyer Diane Assaf, who is following up on the case, told L’Orient Today. The association’s director allegedly threatened the girls in his care with prison if they informed the court that they had been sexually abused. The association has also been accused of human trafficking, after giving at least one child up for adoption in return for financial remuneration.
William Noun, brother of firefighter Joe Noun who was killed in the Aug. 4, 2020 port blast, on Saturday told L'Orient Today he is "expecting heavy participation" during the third anniversary commemorating the tragedy that killed more than 220 people and injured 6,500 others. "We will meet on Aug. 4 at 3:30 p.m. in Karantina near the firefighting barracks and head to the port," Noun said. Noun called on Lebanese residents and expats vacationing in Lebanon to maintain the international community's support by showing they "care about this cause," highlighting the British verdict ordering reparations to victims from defunct chemical trader Savaro Ltd for ordering the ammonium nitrate that detonated the blast. The probe into the blast remains suspended due to judicial vacancies preventing a ruling on complaints against lead investigator Tarek Bitar. Blast victims’ relatives have been commemorating the tragedy each month and have repeatedly protested against the probe’s paralysis.
The Swedish ambassador departed Lebanon on a reportedly pre-planned vacation, an embassy spokesperson told L’Orient Today on Friday, the same day as a demonstration outside the embassy by hundreds of Hezbollah supporters decrying a Quran desecration in Sweden. On Saturday, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said the Swedish Ambassador to Lebanon Ann Dismorr’s departure was “important,” noting that her Lebanese counterpart “will not be returning to Sweden for the time being.” On Friday, hundreds of the party’s supporters responded to Nasrallah’s call to protest, gathering in downtown Beirut outside the Swedish embassy, two days after Salwan Momika, an Iraqi refugee in Sweden, trampled a Quran during a protest. Earlier this month, dozens protested in downtown Beirut, burning the Swedish flag, after Momika burned a copy of the Quran on the first day of the Eid al-Adha holiday.
A depositor couple is scheduled to receive the first installment of their funds after holding up a Hammana bank branch on Friday, their lawyer and Mouttahidoun (“United”) depositor collective founder Rami Ollaik told L'Orient Today. The unidentified bank agreed to pay out the depositors’ funds after one of them threatened suicide with the gun he used to hold up the bank, Ollaik said. On Thursday, Ollaik warned against further hold-ups by depositors demanding their own funds after an attempted forcible withdrawal failed and three others were aborted due to ramped-up security in banks. Also on Thursday, the Association of Banks in Lebanon warned it would reinstate “precautionary measures” as of Friday after a spate of hold-ups over the past two weeks. Banks closed for several weeks last September after a series of hold-ups attempting to circumvent illegal restrictions on transfers and withdrawals in place since 2019.
Two Lebanese citizens died Saturday during a hotel fire in Antalya, a tourist town in southwest Turkey, Lebanon's ambassador to Ankara Ghassan Moallem confirmed to L’Orient Today. "At around 3:45 a.m. on Saturday, an air conditioner caught fire and caused a blaze in the hotel," said Moallem. "Some people managed to escape, others were trapped. Among them were two Lebanese.” Antalya is one of Turkey's top destinations and remains the number-one tourist attraction for Lebanese.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from over the weekend: “Lebanese reactions to controversial works involving Islam”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz