The Judicial Council, Lebanon's highest state security court, on Friday sentenced Habib Chartouni and Nabil al-Alam to death in absentia in the case of the 1982 assassination of President-elect Bashir Gemayel.
The Council also stripped Syrian Social National Party members Chartouni and Alam of their civil rights.
The in absentia trial had kicked off on November 25, 2016. During that session, the Judicial Council called on Chartouni -- who confessed to planting the bomb before escaping prison -- to turn himself in. It also decided to launch in absentia proceedings against the other suspect in the case, al-Alam, after media reports said he had died of illness in Brazil in 2014.
Protesters from the SSNP organized a demonstration outside the Justice Palace on Friday to demand the acquittal of Chartouni.
Supporters of Chartouni had called on the Lebanese state to consider Chartouni “a hero not a criminal.”
Gemayel was a senior member of the Kataeb Party and the supreme commander of the Lebanese Forces militia during the early years of the civil war.
He was elected president on August 23, 1982 while the country was torn by civil war and occupied by both Israel and Syria.
Gemayel was assassinated on September 14, 1982, along with 26 others, when a bomb exploded in Kataeb's headquarters in Ashrafieh.
Chartouni, a member of the SSNP, was later arrested in connection with the assassination. His sister was a resident of the apartment above the room Bachir was in. He had visited her the previous day and planted the bomb in her apartment.
The next day, he called her and told her to get out of the building. Once she was out, he detonated the bomb from a few kilometers away from the building.
Two days later Chartouni was arrested by the Lebanese Forces. At a press conference before being handed over to the Lebanese judiciary by the LF, he called Gemayel a traitor and accused him of “selling the country to Israel.”
He said he was given the explosives and the fancy long-range electronic detonator in West Beirut’s Ras Beirut district by Nabil al-Alam, who was reportedly SSNP's intelligence chief at the time.
Alam reportedly had close ties to the Syrian intelligence services and he swiftly fled to Syria after the assassination.
Chartouni spent eight years in Roumieh Prison without an official trial until he escaped on October 13, 1990 during the Syrian offensive to oust Michel Aoun from the Baabda Palace.
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