Reports Say Samaha Retracted Confessions as Rifi Lauds al-Hassan, Kfouri

Former minister and MP Michel Samaha was interrogated at the Military Tribunal on Monday over charges of forming a group to commit crimes in Lebanon.

He was accompanied by his defense attorneys Malek al-Sayyed and Youssef Finianos and interrogated by First Military Investigation Judge Riyad Abou Ghaida.

Sayyed said while taking a break from the nearly four-hour session: “The investigations are taking a serious course despite the media leaks.”

He hoped that journalists would exercise caution in reporting the investigations “because the leaks may harm the case.”

Asked by reporters if his client was pressured to sign his testimony, Sayyed replied: “The course of the investigation is going well.”

The interrogation has since been suspended and will resume at a later date, which has not been disclosed.

OTV had reported earlier on Monday that Samaha had retracted the statements he made during earlier stages of the investigation.

LBCI television had also reported that informer Milad Kfouri may be summoned to the tribunal to make his testimony in the affair.

Al-Manar television for its part said Samaha was “lured by informant Milad Kfouri into a trap set up by the Intelligence Branch.”

The TV network quoted judicial sources as saying that the defendant “gave his statement under psychological pressure.”

The sources quoted Samaha as saying that “the explosives were supposed to be planted on the northern border to prevent the smuggling of gunmen and weapons to Syria.”

The sources also said that Samaha’s lawyers have decided to file a lawsuit against Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi and ISF Intelligence Branch head Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan on charges of “leaking the details of the investigation.”

Later on Monday, Rifi hit back by issuing a statement in which he praised al-Hassan and described him as “an intelligent and brave officer.”

He also lauded what he called “the unveiling of a dangerous plot to plant bombs and carry out assassinations in northern Lebanon, and the arrest of the mastermind and obtaining evidence on his involvement … which spared the country the threat of descending into sectarian strife.”

Al-Hassan’s performance “has reflected a positive and honorable image about the ISF’s missions,” Rifi added.

The ISF chief also extended gratitude and appreciation to “the secret informant who helped and played a key role in unveiling a dangerous scheme.”

Government deputy Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Sami Sader charged on Saturday Samaha and Syrian security Chief Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk with forming a group to commit crimes in Lebanon.

The two were also charged with plotting to assassinate political and religious figures.

Kfouri was behind reporting Samaha to the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch, LBCI said on Sunday.

“Milad Kfouri is the central figure in this case and he was the one who informed against Samaha using his relations with some security agents,” it added.

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