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Internal Security Forces on Tuesday issued a press release detailing the abduction, sequestration, assault and rape of a 14-year-old girl in Beirut's southern suburbs. The incident, which took place at the end of August, resulted in the arrest of three suspects Monday. In the statement, the ISF said the victim told authorities she escaped after three weeks of captivity in a Sabra apartment, where one of the suspects, an 18-year-old woman, had lured her. The woman’s fiancé, a 19-year-old man, allegedly filmed the third suspect, a 40-year-old man, sexually assaulting the teenager. On Monday, a source within the Lebanese Army’s intelligence services told L’Orient Today that the three suspects are members of a prostitution ring. Their arrest followed a complaint from the teenager’s mother after a video purporting to show the assault circulated on social media.
The Parliamentary Justice and Administration Committee on Tuesday approved a draft law that prevents granting Lebanese citizenship to stateless individuals born in the country after 2011, committee chief MP George Adwan announced. FPM MP Ghassan Atallah, who submitted the draft bill, earlier told L’Orient Today that the law aims to prevent Syrian refugees from “unduly” obtaining Lebanese citizenship. Non-profit development consultancy Siren Associates told L’Orient Today earlier this year there are approximately 27,000 stateless people in Lebanon.
An armed depositor turned himself in after forcibly recovering his funds from a Bankmed branch in Jeb Jennine, Bekaa on Tuesday, the Cry of the Depositors Association and a bank spokesman confirmed to L'Orient Today. Mohammad Issa recovered his funds after threatening bank employees with a (real) grenade and toy gun, a spokesperson from the depositors' rights group said. The same source claimed Issa had been trying to withdraw his funds for a month to aid his ailing father. A Bankmed spokesperson said Issa's funds were deposited after the start of the 2019 crisis and the imposition of informal restrictions on foreign currency withdrawals. The bank spokesperson claimed Issa "accepted a deal to withdraw a small portion in dollars and the rest at a rate of 1,500 Lebanese pounds to the dollar." Sali Hafez, whose hold-up at Blom Bank last October spurred a wave of similar bank hold-ups, also used a fake gun. Depositors contesting informal banking restrictions have repeatedly carried out armed hold-ups to recover their funds, often citing medical expenses as their motive.
Electricité du Liban is studying a measure to allow subscribers to settle their bills in cash, either in lira or dollars, at an exchange rate above that of the parallel market, the Energy Ministry announced yesterday. “The exchange rate adopted for bills is LL 103,000 (compared to LL89,000 per dollar in the parallel market currently),” the ministry said, claiming the rate would “encourage people to pay … and will provide EDL with the dollars it needs.” Last month, the Energy Ministry announced the cancellation of fuel shipments to power EDL power plants due to funding difficulties, citing issues with a central bank mechanism to convert the utility’s lira funds to dollars. Dozens of protesters on Tuesday blocked access to EDL’s headquarters in Beirut to denounce steep bills with “no improvement in service,” according to the state-run National New Agency. An EDL spokesperson told L’Orient Today that lawyer and activist Wassef Harakeh was at the forefront of the protest. The protesters blocked the building between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. after attempting to enter it. Last year, protesters barged into the Energy Ministry during two separate demonstrations decrying perpetual power cuts. An EDL plan launched at the start of the year sought to gradually increase state electricity provision. EDL’s plan was complemented by a country-wide network inspection, providing increased coverage to areas with low violation rates, a pivot towards renewables and bill collection adopting the first rake hike in nearly 30 years. The increased electricity tariffs were met with mass unsubscriptions from EDL’s network.
Internal Security Forces on Tuesday announced the arrest of the alleged shooter who fired over a dozen rounds toward the US Embassy with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle last Wednesday. The ISF claimed the 26-year-old man confessed to the shooting after his arrest in Kafaat in Beirut's southern suburbs. "We thank the local authorities for their swift and thorough investigation," embassy spokesperson Jake Nelson stated to L'Orient Today. The shooting coincided with the anniversary of the fatal 1984 US Embassy car bombing, which Washington attributed to Hezbollah.
The Fnaidek municipality in Akkar announced the suspension of its activities, including garbage collection, as of next month due to a lack of funds. The municipality’s statement lamented that 95 percent of residents had not paid municipal taxes this year, let alone in previous years, despite the tax amounting to only one dollar per household per month. The statement further highlights the municipality's inability to pay the salaries of its employees and volunteers. The Lebanese government has not paid municipalities their dues since 2021.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri told Al-Joumhouriya he has no alternative to the presidential election dialogue initiative after several parties refused to participate. "Let those who rejected it come and propose another solution," Berri said in the interview published Tuesday. The dialogue initiative, initially scheduled for September, aimed to join different political parties ahead of open, consecutive electoral sessions. Among the dialogue's critics, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea responded yesterday by calling on Parliament to skip ahead to "the second phase of [Berri's] initiative, which calls for successive electoral sessions." The same day, Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil, also critical of Berri's initiative, said that dialogue was part of the only solution to the presidential impasse while stressing "that dialogue has conditions." Bassil last week criticized the proposed dialogue as being "traditional."
A French court sentenced Lebanese serial fraudster Dany Hadid to six years in prison for once again defrauding tens of thousands of euros by masquerading as an undercover agent for the French General Directorate for External Security (DGSE). The court also ordered Hadid to pay a €50,000 fine for scamming a couple out of more than €853,000 under the guise of funding special agent operations in Lebanon when they had initially been seeking a tax audit of their construction companies in April 2021. The court also gave Hadid's Syrian ex-wife an 18-month suspended prison sentence and a 10,000-euro fine for handling numerous items of jewelry and cash. "But you never stop," presiding judge Pascal Gand told Hadid in April after he sentenced him to seven years of prison for the rape of a vulnerable person, also involving the secret agent pretense — through which he had swindled an Egyptian restaurant owner in Versailles.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Taxi woes: Licensed and unlicensed drivers compete for rides amid economic crisis”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz