Military judge accuses Hezbollah members of killing UN peacekeeper


A military judge has accused five Hezbollah members, only one of whom is in custody, of killing an Irish United Nations peacekeeper in December last year, a judicial official told AFP Thursday.

Private Sean Rooney, 23, was killed and three others were injured on December 14 when their U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) vehicle was attacked near the southern coastal village of al-Aqbiyeh.

Fadi Sawan, the investigating judge in the military tribunal for the case, issued a 30-page indictment accusing five Hezbollah members of "forming a group of malefactors to commit a crime," the official said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

Mohammad Ayyad, in custody after Hezbollah handed him over to the army in December, is accused along with four other members of the group of "intentional homicide," the official said.

Under Lebanese law, such crimes are punishable by death, he said, adding that Sawan had referred them to military court and shared the indictment with the UNIFIL.

Footage from surveillance cameras near the scene of the incident "clearly shows the patrol being attacked by armed men from all sides," the document read.

"Some of them could be heard saying 'we are Hezbollah' and using walkie-talkies to communicate," the indictment added.

Hezbollah has repeatedly denied involvement in the incident, and its security chief Wafiq Safa has described the killing as "unintentional."

In January, Lebanon had charged seven people, including Ayyad, for participating in the attack.

Ayyad was charged at the time "with killing the Irish soldier and attempting to kill his three comrades by shooting them with a machine gun," an official had told AFP.

Lebanon had also charged six fugitives "for uttering threats with an illegal weapon, destroying the UNIFIL vehicle and intimidating its passengers."

UNIFIL, made up of some 10,000 peacekeepers, has been deployed since 1978 to act as a buffer between Lebanon and Israel, which remain technically in a state of war.

There have been incidents in the past between Hezbollah supporters and UNIFIL patrols, but they have rarely escalated.

Comments 7
Thumb 01 June 2023, 18:05

I respectfully ask you to provide the specific names of the four other individuals connected to Hezbollah who have been implicated in the murder of Private Sean Rooney. Somehow, I believe that Judge Fadi Sawan is likely to receive incessant threatening phone calls directed towards him and his family on a daily basis. What a couragous judge!

Missing HellAndWaite 01 June 2023, 20:20

"One of five indicted, Mohamad Ayyad, is currently in custody of Lebanese authorities. The four others facing charges - Ali Khalifeh, Ali Salman, Hussein Salman, and Mustafa Salman - are at large."

Thumb 02 June 2023, 01:18

The infamous Salman thugs! What sets this family apart is not only their audacity in drug trafficking, arms smuggling, extortion, and organized theft but also their ability to adapt and stay one step ahead of the authorities. They employ advanced techniques, utilize technology, and maintain an intricate network of hezbollah informants, making it exceedingly difficult for the LAF to apprehend them.

Missing singldad 01 June 2023, 19:58

blah blah blah... nothing will come out of it...

Missing HellAndWaite 01 June 2023, 20:27

Since Hezbollah has no involvement in the incident, they should be quick and complete in assisting law enforcement by capturing and handing-over the suspects still at large.

It is simple: Do you at least sometimes obey Lebanese law or always do not? Murder is against the law in every country and religion known to man. There is no excuse possible.

Rafik Hariri continues watching you, Hidin' Hassan ...

Thumb lubnani.masi7i 02 June 2023, 01:29

They are now officially canonized as saints!

Missing un520 02 June 2023, 10:32

So Hezbollah handed over the village idiot, but cover for the real culprits.