Rifi, Mashnouq Vow to Punish Culprits as Roumieh 'Torture' Videos Surface

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The ministers of justice and interior pledged accountability Sunday after videos of Internal Security Forces guards abusing and torturing Roumieh prison inmates went viral on social networking websites.

In a press conference he held after a meeting with a Muslim Scholars Committee delegation, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi described the conduct as a “crime at the national and humanitarian levels.”

“We will continue the investigations until the end and this crime cannot go unpunished,” Rifi vowed.

“I contacted the state prosecutor and asked him to carry on with the investigations until the end,” the minister added.

He later revealed that five of the perpetrators have been detained.

In a telephone interview with state-run National News Agency, State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud had confirmed that “two ISF members who tortured a detainee at the Roumieh prison are currently being interrogated.”

Earlier on Sunday, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq's press office issued a statement saying the videos were filmed “during the latest riot and raid at Roumieh prison's Block D.”

“After the interior minister reviewed the videos, he instructed the relevant security authorities to carry out a transparent and immediate investigation,” the statement added.

“The culprits were referred to the relevant judicial authorities to face the severest penalties. As the interior minister condemns this incident, he vows that he will not hesitate to take all the legal measures to prevent the recurrence of such acts,” his office said.

It noted that Mashnouq called the justice minister and agreed with him on the need to “coordinate the investigations in such cases” and to “implement the law in Lebanese prisons in a manner that fully preserves the inmates' humanitarian rights.”

In a press conference he held later on Sunday, Mashnouq condemned the abuse and emphasized that the appropriate measures will be taken against the violators.

“I take responsibility for the mistakes that occurred during the raids at the Roumieh prison,” the minister said.

But he stressed that “it is unacceptable to condemn the ISF institution and the heroes who rescued Roumieh's Block B.”

“We have always deplored the abuses and torture that take place in Syrian prisons and I won't tolerate similar acts in Lebanese prisons,” Mashnouq added.

“These are not the only servicemen who have committed abuses. Four other servicemen were prosecuted in the past,” he noted, pointing out that “the incident happened two months ago and no similar incidents occurred after the prisoners were moved to Block D.”

The minister added: “We are the only country in the Arab world that prosecutes members of the armed forces before the judiciary.”

“No one should try to take advantage of the incident politically,” Mashnouq underlined, revealing that “some servicemen were sacked for committing abuses during the raid at Block B.”

Later on Sunday, al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri held phone talks with Mashnouq and Rifi to inquire about the developments.

“Ex-PM Hariri expressed his extreme condemnation of what happened, stressing the need to hold accountable all those involved in these inhumane acts and practices,” his office said.

The former premier lauded “the quick responses of the ministers of justice and interior,” noting that he is “confident that ministers Rifi and al-Mashnouq will not heed some voices that are trying to exploit a just cause over narrow political ends.”

The videos sparked road-blocking protests in the North and the Bekaa districts.

The army reopened the al-Abdeh roundabout after it was briefly blocked with burning tires by young men from the Akkar town of Bebnin, NNA said.

In the Bekaa, residents of the town of Saadnayel blocked the road linking their town to neighboring Taalbaya in both directions.

Meanwhile, LBCI television said "families of Islamist prisoners have started to gather at al-Nour Square (in the northern city of Tripoli) to protest the torture of prisoners in Roumieh."

The two videos, apparently filmed on cellphones, appear to show guards at the prison humiliating detainees and beating them with plastic pipes.

In one video, a prisoner lies on a floor covered in water, stripped to his underwear with his hands tied behind his back.

He is asked what he is accused of, and replies "transporting terrorists."

A guard then beats him repeatedly with a green pipe, while another man off-camera encourages him and demands that the prisoner kiss his assailant's boot.

In the other video, around a dozen prisoners, all stripped to their underwear with their hands tied behind them are seated on a floor.

A guard can be seen beating at least two prisoners, shouting at one: "Lower your voice or I'll put your eyes out."

Meanwhile, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan held phone talks over the leaked videos with both Mashnouq and Rifi.

“The torture of prisoners that we witnessed violates the laws and the humanitarian values and principles. Strict measures must be taken against the culprits to prevent the recurrence of such acts that harm Lebanon's reputation and the state of law,” Daryan said in a statement.

“In the name of the Muslim scholars in Lebanon, we say that what happened was an insult to humanity and to the state, and what we heard from the ministers of interior and justice reassured us that the state will restore the rights and dignity of the prisoners,” the mufti added.

Earlier, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat compared the footage leaked from Roumieh to “a scene from one of the Syrian prisons.”

“This is shameful. The perpetrators must be penalized and those responsible must be sacked,” Jumblat tweeted.

He also called for “speeding up the trials of the Islamists and finalizing this issue.”

Quoting sources from the northern city of Tripoli, LBCI television identified the abused prisoners in the video as “Omar al-Atrash, Wael al-Samad and a prisoner from the Asaad family who hails from Wadi Khaled.”

Roumieh, the oldest and largest of Lebanon's overcrowded prisons, has witnessed sporadic prison breaks and escalating riots in recent years as inmates living in poor conditions demand better treatment.

Islamist prisoners who were being held at Roumieh's Block B transferred to a new ward following increased lawlessness and worsening conditions.

In January, security forces took full control of the notorious Block B after storming the building and seizing illegal items from Islamist prisoners.

Around 800 to 900 inmates, most of them Islamists, were transferred to the new Block D.


Comments 41
Default-user-icon Lteif (Guest) 21 June 2015, 17:36

Interior Minister Mashnouq at press conference: I bear the responsibility for what happened at the Roumieh prison.

Wow this is new a Lebanese official actually taking responsibility for what happened on his watch. The coward army deserter, who used his office to try an become president by starting and losing two wars then ran away, who blocks governments to appoint his sons in law and other relatives to government jobs and who plays the blame game with every one of his unending failures, can learn from minister Mashnouq how a real man behaves.

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 12:07

Besides the nice words, I wonder how Mashnouk "responsibility" will materialize. Will he go to jail? Will he resign?
And actually, I'd be more interested in seeing the real culprits held accountable, not the minister who just landed the job recently, but those who led the ISF during its decades of institutionalized torture.

Thumb Maxx 22 June 2015, 12:25

You said it Mowaten. Were you around during the "7imlet 3abbadi el Shaytan"? Where any guy with long hair/piercings, or any girl with short hair/tattoos were arrested in broad daylight and beaten the $#!t out of before being released with no charges? Considering that the general amnesty of 1990 incorporated all the militia wazawiz into the army and/or police, what is so surprising about the fact that we are being policed by thugs?

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 13:53

Indeed Maxx, I remember those times. There was an underground concert place in Jal el Dib where some rock/hard rock/metal bands used to play, and they had to put people on the lookout on all the main incoming roads. Every time a police car was seen headed in our general direction they'd give the alert and we'd all run out and scatter in the neighborhood, wait half an hour or so, and then come back. It was fun, but ridiculous that we had to do that, as if it was a crime to go to a concert...

Thumb bananasplit 21 June 2015, 18:12

As if they had no idea torture was going on!

Thumb Maxx 22 June 2015, 12:27

Of course they had an idea; but now they got caught.

Thumb kanaandian 22 June 2015, 03:51

id put metal rods through the rears of those hameers until they go out of their mouths, sending the videos to their mothers, until their allies in jabhat al nusra and isis free all lebanese troops and take their filthy carcasses back to syria

Thumb freedomarch 22 June 2015, 04:37

God Bless our Army and security forces and damn those who tarnish their image whether from within, hizbolah or sunni Islamists. People like these are each of them use these news, really hard to see, use them to provoke their populations for political gain.

Thumb Maxx 22 June 2015, 12:30

Yes, sure; because in our part of the World escalation always helps to mend fences.
Are you effing serious? For a group like Daesh that use such videos as recruitment propaganda material, you want to send it to their mothers? You think that would solve anything? Quit thinking in terms of hatred and anger and start thinking in terms of solutions. Provoking armed idiots who feed off anger and outrage is not going to solve anything.

Missing ArabDemocrat.com 22 June 2015, 04:11


Missing minlibnan 22 June 2015, 09:00

This isn't about Shia or sunni, this is the ideology of our entire population. We are barbaric! Tfeh!

Thumb Maxx 22 June 2015, 12:34

That may very well and sadly be; but either we wait for our politicians - ya sabrak ya 2ayyoub! - to change that, or we start by changing it ourselves. I don't know about you mate, but I have no faith in our politicians and even less patience...
If you know somebody in the police or army, invite them for a coffee and have a long and heartfelt talk with them. It's a small one, but it's still a first step.

Thumb kanaanljdid 22 June 2015, 09:52

Classic jail in the Arab world. Lebanon is not different from Saudi Arabia or Syria on that matter.

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 12:11

kanaan: how do you say guantanamo in hebrew?


Thumb Maxx 22 June 2015, 12:41

Gvantanamv (Gimel-vav-aleph-nun-tau-aleph-nun-aleph-mem-vav).
But Mowaten, the only way we can stop torture in Israeli prisons is if we influence some transnational body - like the U.N., Red Cross, MSF, etc. - to pressure them into stopping (let's be honest, it's not like we're going to "liberate" them through military means). And if we want to influence said bodies then we, as a lobbying nation, have to be taken seriously in our concern. And we won't be taken seriously if we are seen as hypocrites who are doing the same to our own prisoners - after all, Daesh members and sympathizers in Roumieh are treated like Palestinians in Israel.
To all change there's a first and pragmatic, realistic step. It might not be the easiest one, but it's a first and doable step. Cheers, and happy Summer!

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 13:58

Sadly Maxx all these bodies are under the US boot, at least all the big ones, and they will never take any binding decision. Even the Goldstone report with all the war crimes it documented was brushed off like it wasn't anything..
These NGOs and world bodies have known for decades about israeli war crimes, torture, collective punishments, illegal settlements, illegal occupation, illegal sieges, illegal preventing of the right of return of refugees (even though it's an inalienable right according to the UN charter), and still israel laughs it off and does what it wants.. When there is no justice and no other recourse, then violence is not only necessary, it becomes legitimate.

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 12:02

Tes soirées ont l'air d’être a ton image: déplorables.

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 12:02

Pro-shia? The ISF? Dude do you even know what you're talking about?

Thumb barrymore 22 June 2015, 14:28

so according to mowaten there are no shias in the ISF? More than half the ISF are shia!

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 14:42

I didnt say there werent any Shias in the ISF, learn to read. Or maybe you think like shialikker that the ISF is a "pro-shiaa" body?

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 12:02

Respect for your decency. That PB is really disgusting, glad that you are not all like this.

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 12:07

In the ISF? Lol you guys are a joke with your delusions and inability to face reality.

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 16:09

Hold it for a second, before you fly off in a flurry of insults and irrelevant trolling, just tell me this: are you saying that the ISF is made of "da7esh/hizbulaat/nosra thugs" ?

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 17:20

I'd rather quote you on what you were saying in the first place, and which has nothing to do with your poetic irrelevancy.
"These people are the same that are torturing and killing people in Syria. They're da7esh/hizbulaat/nosra thugs"

Thumb Maxx 22 June 2015, 12:20

Sorry PJ-Boy, but I'm not with you on this one. What are you trying to achieve, ultimately, by going on with your sectarian hatred like this? I don't like Hizb either, but they are not the representatives of the "Sha3b Shi3i Shareef", and you with your continuous assault on all Shia regardless of anything else but their sect means you swallow Hizb's propaganda more than anybody. Quit it. And now go out and make some Shia friends. You'd be surprised by how cool some of them are.

Thumb -phoenix1 22 June 2015, 13:56

Maxx, here I will subscribe to your views, I kinda winced at PB's post gone a bit too far. me too I can say that I have some very close Shiite friends, in fact some since childhood and I can also attest to this, that these people are truly wonderful people, the very best friends for life, and this if even I am so very much against Hezbollah's policies these days. You're right, we must abstain from becoming generalistic in our views, this is certainly not the way to go about it, at the end of the day we're ALL Lebanese and we shall all remain in this land and live side by side, Hezbollah or no Hezbollah, Lebanon is above us all.

Thumb Maxx 22 June 2015, 12:21


Missing helicopter 22 June 2015, 16:33

We ass enlightened people need to see acts for what they are without attaching a sect to them (unless they are committed in the name of a sect and hailed by members of the sect). THis is an inhumane treatment of Prisoners that should be investigated and rectified. I believe the Ministers Rifi and Mashnoque are handling it righth

Thumb Maxx 22 June 2015, 12:26

You said it first, but yes, I was thinking of it all throughout... Tfeh...

Default-user-icon + oua nabka + (Guest) 22 June 2015, 12:30

someone should ask mr RIffi when he was head of security why he built an islamic emirates in roumier prison under his orders and an investigation should be done and culprits punished
god bless democracy

Thumb -phoenix1 22 June 2015, 14:03

I am one who salutes the courage and decency of the honorable minister Mashnouq, but we must also try not to pin on him the misbehavior of those involved in this brutality. fact is and remains that a good proportion our security forces (and here I am making clear reference well away from the Lebanese Army), are not that well trained. this for decades now. Though Mashnouq has implemented some much needed new laws, it remains to be seen how well these men on the ground will implement them. His position on this very regrettable incident means that a minister is capable of taking difficult decisions, something rarely seen on the scene before.

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 15:48

Crois moi, c'est tout le Liban qui est bien content d’être débarrassé de l'infecte personne que tu es.
Tu veux mettre ca au crédit des Shiites? Alors merci a eux, toujours les premiers quand il s'agit de dératiser et faire sortir la vermine de ce beau pays.

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 16:14

Thanks for highlighting that point texasusa.
Rifi created and ran this culture of torture in the ISF for decades, and he was never bothered... until now! What a coincidence, it's just when it happens to be his "protégées" getting slapped around.

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 17:26

You're already dumb enough to not need to play even dumber anonyme and pretend you didnt understand what I said, or try to distort it to squeeze in your habal.
I said rifi ran and nurtured a culture of torture in the ISF, i didnt say torture of takfiris. He is bothered now because the methods he encouraged and gave cover to for decades got out of his control and backfired on what he sees and treats as "his peolpe". We never heard rifi say anything when it was young people getting beaten and tortured for smoking a joint, or gays getting eggs shoved up their anuses (as was the standard procedure for "gay testing" during his time).

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 17:30

and take a break with that syrian scapegoat, the automatic excuse for every f'ed up thing a lebanese does, it's always the syrian's fault eh? grow up, face reality, and stop that systematic blindness and denial of everything that disturbs you in your delusions.

Thumb _mowaten_ 22 June 2015, 18:32

you're such an idiot it's beyond words.

Missing Je_suis@libonase 22 June 2015, 16:58

People I beleive many of these prisoners are held without charge or trials . What if some of them are innocent and then we have these maniac prison interrogators carrying on in this fashion . Just put yourself in the shoes of someone who is held without charge and being beaten and humiliated like this . This is totally unacceptable behaviour and first thing that should happen is this minister resign and having a enquiry into this .

Thumb Maxx 22 June 2015, 17:48

B) Anybody who has lived in Beirut during and after the Civil War would know that all the z3ùriyyeh that used to put down a gun on the counter and then take whatever they wanted from a shop without paying became cops and soldiers (I write this without any intention of offense to the true-blooded soldiers and policemen who have joined the forces out of a sense of duty and a will to actually serve and protect). So those need to be weeded out from the legitimate forces.
C) We are a hot-blooded Nation: we still need to learn how to treat those who have tried to kill us with the dignity and respect that is imperative to all decent Human Beings and not impulsively inflict upon them what they have tried to inflict upon us.

Thumb Maxx 22 June 2015, 17:49

I agree with you for the most part; but:
A) I have known people who were arrested and, since they did not have the proper wasta, kept in prison for up to three years without charge or trial and then released and because they were released no court in Lebanon would handle their complaints afterwards (as we call it, "manyakè duwaliyyè"); these were the same people who turned to actual crime after they were released because they figured that since they were already being treated like criminals anyway even though they were innocent in the first place, might as well live up to the reputation.

Thumb Maxx 22 June 2015, 17:49

Ergo, a Minister who is aware of these problems shouldn't resign; he should do his utmost to rectify said problems; like try acting like an actual Human Being and not just a vengeful c**t. It's not the Minister himself who is beating the bejesus out of these people; so let the people doing the beating be held responsible for their actions, especially their unsolicited actions; and not just the Minister who is supposed to have oversight over them but is not fully applying his authority.
Because seriously, considering that most of those who have been undergoing the aforementioned beatings are followers or sympathizers of Daesh and their ilk, I seriously doubt that a Minister resigning in the wake of such blatant violations is going to cure the cancer that is afflicting our Nation. However, if we blunt the motivation of Daesh and Co. by not giving them causes to hate us more, perchance we might achieve something better...

Thumb -phoenix1 22 June 2015, 17:08

Tex, you caught 1978 with his pants down.