March 14 Criticizes Calls to Lift Merehbi’s Immunity as Berri Set to Study Requestإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Speaker Nabih Berri revealed that he will study an official request to strip MP Moeen al-Merehbi of his parliamentary immunity as the March 14 opposition alliance lashed out at Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi threatening to resort to article 39 of constitution.
“I will study the matter before sending the request to the parliament's bureau and the administrative committee,” Berri told An Nahar newspaper on Friday.
He said in comment published in As Safir newspaper that the parliament will discuss the issue to take the right decision according to norms.
On July 31, the Army Command announced that it had “launched measures aimed at prosecuting Merehbi” after he “insisted on attacking the military institution and insulting its leadership.”
Earlier that day, Merehbi slammed Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji as an “unsuccessful person,” accusing him of being “responsible for all the mistakes and seditions.”
The lawmaker also said the army commander is “an employee who should do his job,” accusing him of “exploiting the (military) institution in order to become the next president of the republic.”
Merehbi has been locked in a war of words with the military institution ever since the shooting death in May of Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahed at an army checkpoint in Akkar.
The March 14 alliance threatened to resort to article 39 of the constitution, which states that “no member of the Chamber may be prosecuted because of ideas and opinions expressed during the period of his mandate.”
However, article 40 states that “no member of the Chamber may, during the sessions, be prosecuted or arrested for a criminal offense without the permission of the Chamber, except when caught in the act.”
March 14 MP Marwan Hamadeh, who is a member of the parliament’s bureau, slammed Qortbawi, describing the request as “unconstitutional.”
He hoped that Berri wouldn’t approve the Justice Minister’s request, stressing that it will not pass through the parliament’s bureau and the administrative committee’s meeting.
For his part, Qortbawi told As Safir daily that he based his request on article 91 of the parliament’s by-laws, noting that he received a memorandum from acting General Prosecutor Samir Hammoud specifying the accusations against Merehbi.
“I am obliged to refer the request and I have no right to interfere in it,” Qortbawi said.
March 14 General Secretariat Fares Soaid also slammed the Justice Minister, arguing that his action is “unacceptable and unconstitutional.”
According to the parliament’s by-laws, the Speaker has to call on the parliament’s bureau and the administrative committee for a joint session if there was a request to lift the immunity off an MP.