Caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury on Tuesday stressed that he did what’s needed to “preserve the Lebanese state’s rights,” amid a row with caretaker PM Najib Mikati over hiring lawyers to represent the Lebanese state in the case of the Paris-held assets of Central Bank chief Riad Salameh.
Speaking at a press conference, Khoury denied that there is a lack of information surrounding the lawyers.
“This is incorrect and we have sent the information to the Premiership,” the minister said.
“The lawyer Emmanuel Daoud is not a Jew but rather a Catholic from an Algerian father and a French mother. He had been hired in a lawsuit against Israel to the benefit of Palestinian activist Salah Hammouri and he had previously filed a lawsuit against the CIA for bombing Iraq,” Khoury said.
“We are ready to submit information regarding the CVs of the lawyers Emmanuel Daoud and Pascal Buffet,” the minister added.
“The CVs of the two lawyers have been deliberately distorted and the aim is to delay the files that the French courts are looking into,” Khoury went on to say.
“We have signed the contracts and they are still in effect. I’m clinging to them and will not back down,” he emphasized.
Informed sources have told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that Mikati was dismayed after “the justice minister unilaterally hired the lawyers Emmanuel Daoud and Pascal Buffet without following the legal channels that are used in such cases.”
The procedures “should have started with a suggestion with the names of the lawyers from Justice Ministry Director General Judge Mohammed al-Masri to get the minister’s approval before referring the file to Cabinet to issue an appointment decree,” the source said.
Mikati had invited Khoury and the rest of ministers to a Cabinet session on Wednesday to discuss the appointment of the lawyers as a sole topic. Khoury, however, said that he would continue to boycott Cabinet sessions in line with the Free Patriotic Movement’s decision and the premier announced a postponement of the session in the wake of Khoury’s press conference.
In a statement, Mikati stressed that no one is keener than him on Lebanon’s higher interest, while reiterating that Khoury has “violated the norms in approaching this file.”
“The final opinion should be taken in Cabinet,” Mikati stressed, noting that he has decided to postpone the Cabinet session to allow Khoury to “reconsider his stance.”
“The Minister’s decision to impede the work of state institutions will make him personally liable at the constitutional, legal and ethical levels for any harm that may target the state’s higher interest,” Mikati warned.
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