Rifi Demands 'Amendment' of Military Tribunal Regulations in Light of Samaha Verdictإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi announced that he is preparing to appeal the verdict against former Minister Michel Samaha, noting that the main problem with the sentence is linked to the structure of the Military Tribunal, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Saturday.
He told the daily: “I am demanding an amendment to the regulations of the Tribunal, not its elimination.”
He revealed that his appeal will refer to video recordings of Samaha that showed him discussing the transportation of explosives from Syria to Lebanon to carry out attacks and assassinations.
“Military officials should be tried in strictly military affairs at the Military Tribunal,” Rifi stressed.
“We should then follow the lead of civilized countries and eliminate special courts and instead set up specialized ones,” explained Rifi.
Moreover, he linked Samaha's light sentence to the current political situation in Lebanon “where a statelet is exerting its influence” over proceedings in Lebanon.
“The statelet, meaning Hizbullah, is a product of the remnants of the Syrian regime in Lebanon. We should therefore wage a battle against this influence on all levels and institutions and strive for the establishment of the state,” declared the minister.
The Military Tribunal sentenced on Wednesday Samaha to four-and-a-half years in jail over terrorism charges.
Arrested in August 2012, he would be released at the end of this year taking into account time served and because the judicial year amounts to nine months in Lebanon.
The verdict created uproar among politicians and civil society, who slammed the Tribunal for its light verdict, while Rifi had demanded the abolishment of the military court.
Samaha was found guilty of "having tried to carry out terrorist actions and for belonging to an armed group" and was also stripped of his civil and political rights.
The defense team argues that the former minister fell into a trap set by the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch.
Samaha, who was also once an adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad, admitted in court last month that he had transported explosives from Syria for use in attacks in Lebanon, but argued that he had been the victim of entrapment.
The explosives were to be used in blasts on the Lebanese border, intended to force the closure of the frontier and stop the passage of Lebanese fighters joining rebel forces in Syria.
The prosecution had charged Samaha and Syrian security services chief Ali Mamlouk with transporting explosives and planning attacks and assassinations of political and religious figures in Lebanon.
The trial was postponed multiple times because of the absence of Mamlouk, who remains in Syria, until a judge separated the two cases, allowing Samaha's trial to open on April 20.