Raad Criticizes 'Malicious, Temperamental' Statements Rejecting Samaha's Release
Hizbullah top lawmaker Mohammed Raad has slammed as “malicious, temperamental and non-objective” the statements that criticized the release on bail on Monday of ex-minister Michel Samaha, who is accused of conspiring with Syrian officials to stage bombings and assassinations in Lebanon.
“The furious and systematic statements that today rejected the Lebanese judiciary's decision to release ex-minister Michel Samaha are an expression of distemper, malice and lack of objectivity,” Raad said in a press release.
“This has always been their approach in power and in dealing with the judiciary, the administrations and public funds,” he added.
“They have never heeded those who object against their injustice, corruption, squandering of public money and abuse of power,” Raad went on to say.
Several leaders of the March 14 camp as well as centrist leader MP Walid Jumblat have blasted the Military Court's ruling with ex-PM Saad Hariri describing it as "a violation of the feelings of the majority of the Lebanese."
The ex-minister was arrested in August 2012 and charged with attempting to carry out "terrorist acts" over allegations that he and Syrian security services chief Ali Mamluk transported explosives and planned attacks and assassinations of political and religious figures in Lebanon.
Samaha was sentenced in May 2015 to four-and-half years in prison, but in June Lebanon's Cassation Court nullified the verdict and ordered a retrial. Samaha, an ex-adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad, admitted during his trial that he had transported the explosives from Syria for use in attacks in Lebanon.
He however argued he should be acquitted because he was a victim of entrapment by a Lebanese security services informer.
“The stance of this camp on the Military Court is a temperamental stance that changes according to its interests and it is not at all based on the law,” Raad added.
“They were satisfied with the judiciary when it ordered the release of terror suspects and Israeli spies, but today they are venting their anger on it when it decided to free ex-minister Michel Samaha,” the lawmaker said.
He stressed that there was “no legal justification” to keep Samaha in custody “after he served the jail term that was issued against him.”
“Justice requires a reevaluation of the laws in practice -- which had been passed by those who were behind today's statements – instead of launching cheap attacks against judges and officers who issue rulings in line with the jurisdiction vested in them by the law,” Raad added.
Samaha, who was information minister from 1992 to 1995, would be released in exchange for a bail payment of 150 million Lebanese pounds ($100,000), according the text of the judgment.
Under his bail conditions, Samaha, 67, would be barred from leaving the country for at least one year, speaking to the press or using social media.