BEIRUT — Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea pointed blame Monday at Hezbollah in the Aug. 2 death of former LF official Elias Hasrouni, citing "available information," though an investigation is reportedly ongoing.
Initial reports indicated that Hasrouni may have died in an accident. However, the mayor of Ain Ibl, where Hasrouni died, as well as LF and Kataeb officials, claimed he had been kidnapped and murdered, based on alleged security camera footage.
What happened in Ain Ibl is a "premeditated crime," Geagea told Annahar in comments published Monday. "About a week passed since videos of the incident were sent to the security services, [yet] until now no information has been issued and this increases our suspicions."
"We are waiting for the security services' investigations but according to the available information, the suspicions indicate the involvement of Hezbollah," Geagea continued.
Earlier on Monday, caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said after a Central Security Council meeting that "the investigations are ongoing" on Elias Hasrouni's death but that some information gathered so far suggests that political parties were not involved.
Geagea also commented on the deadly clash last Wednesday between Hezbollah and residents of Kahaleh after a Hezbollah truck carrying ammunition overturned as it traveled through the Aley district town. Local resident Fadi Bejjani, who had opened fire during the incident, and Hezbollah member Ahmed Qassas were killed.
Geagea added that the Kahaleh incident shows that the "overwhelming majority of the Lebanese people are now against Hezbollah's behavior."
He said arming Christians was not on the table: "Despite some remarks on the Army's performance, the army intervened and resolved the situation; accordingly, there is a legitimate military force that handles security affairs. Therefore, it is not permissible to think in any other direction."
Geagea also discussed recent negotiations between the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and Hezbollah to find a solution for the presidential vacuum, expressing surprise at the talks despite the Ain Ibl and Kahaleh incidents. He described the negotiations as a "major fraud" and accused FPM leader Gebran Bassil of "bargaining national files for personal gains."
Bassil has been strongly advocating for the establishment of a state asset trust fund and "financial" decentralization and implied on Aug. 8 that he could "facilitate" the election of Hezbollah's favored presidential candidate in exchange for these demands.
Geagea criticized Bassil's demands on Monday saying that the LF had already proposed a similar measure as a way out of the financial crisis.
"It is surprising that Bassil demands the [trust fund] from Hezbollah as if it is only his [personal] demand."
Geagea added that "concerning the decentralization law, there is a draft submitted by former minister Ziad Baroud, which passed through the committees with the approval of all parties. It is clear that Bassil is trying to "sell us" issues that all parties agreed on."
Finally, Geagea discussed the recent Alvarez & Marsal report which covers the forensic accounting of Banque du Liban (BDL)'s accounts. The 332-page report, dated Aug. 7 and made available to ministers, examines BDL's accounts between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2020, and makes some scathing findings.
"The report was shocking and constituted a major scandal," Geagea remarked. "From the first moment, it was referred to a committee of specialists in the Lebanese Forces to study and take the appropriate position."
He added that the finance ministers in charge during the 2015-2020 period covered by the report "must be prosecuted" alongside disgraced former BDL head Riad Salameh and other top officials.