Judge probes Saqr’s calls over arms to Syrian rebels

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Lebanon’s Prosecutor Judge Hatem Madi Tuesday tasked the Central Criminal Investigations Bureau with examining audio recordings implicating a Lebanese lawmaker in arms transfers to Syrian rebels, judicial sources told The Daily Star.

Future MP Oqab Saqr admitted Monday in comments to pan Arab Ash-Sharq al-Awsat that his voice could be heard in recordings published by a local newspaper discussing supplying weapons to alleged Syrian rebels.

On the series of recordings, published by Al-Akhbar daily, Saqr and a man Al-Akhbar describes as a leader of a militant group in the Syrian opposition make arrangements for the drop-off of weapons to rebels.

Investigators will listen to the audio recordings by Saqr to decide on the correct judicial measures according to Lebanese law and the judicial cooperation agreements between Lebanon and Syria, said the sources.

In his Monday comments, Saqr said he was ready to face any potential legal measures against him over the affair. The MP said he has always abided by the law and does not hide behind his parliamentary immunity.

In the wake of the uprising against President Bashar Assad, Lebanon has adopted a policy of dissociation over events in Syria. In mid-2012 rival political leaders, who are divided over the Syria crisis, vowed to keep Lebanon neutral from developments in its neighbor.

The Future Movement, a major component of the Lebanese opposition, has repeatedly insisted that its support to Syrians is solely of a moral and humanitarian nature.

Speaking earlier to The Daily Star, a former MP and legal expert Mikhael Daher said the public prosecutor’s office can request that immunity be removed if there is a case against an MP, adding that inciting violence in another country is a crime.

According to Daher, Parliament is able to strip an MP of his immunity from criminal prosecution with a quorum of 65 lawmakers and a simple majority.

“When the General Prosecutor’s Office decides to pursue someone, it asks for him to be stripped of his parliamentary immunity,” Daher said.

“Once the speaker receives a request for stripping [an MP] of [his] immunity, he informs Parliament’s secretariat about it and subjects it to a vote before the General Assembly,” Daher added.

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