Testimony of Syrian officials sought in Samaha case

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The investigative judge presiding over former Minister Michel Samaha’s case was tasked Monday with questioning Syrian officials allegedly involved in transferring explosives to Lebanon.

Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr asked Judge Riyad Abu Ghayda to question Syrian National Security Bureau head Ali Mamlouk along with Col. Adnan, whose last name is not known, and Bouthaina Shaaban, adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Judicial sources told The Daily Star that Abu Ghayda will send a request for questioning to the officials via Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry. If the three do not respond to the request, the judge can issue arrest warrants in absentia.

Adnan’s request will be sent to Mamlouk.

In August the government’s Deputy Commissioner at the Military Tribunal Judge Sami Nader accused Samaha along with Mamlouk and Adnan of plotting to assassinate political and religious figures in Lebanon and carry out terrorist attacks.

Samaha was also accused of transferring explosives from Syria to Lebanon and working with foreign intelligence against his country.

Meanwhile, an analysis of a phone conversation between Shaaban and Samaha confirmed the former’s involvement in the case.

A high-level source told The Daily Star in October that Shaaban had knowledge of Samaha’s security and political activity as well as the tasks that were assigned to him.

“He would call her ‘our magnificent’ and she would speak to him in a commanding manner, [ordering] him to carry out the duties assigned to him, including the bombings,” the source said.

Shaaban has dismissed the reports.

Samaha, who has maintained close ties with the Syrian regime for decades, confessed during his preliminary interrogation with the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch to plotting bomb attacks at the behest of Assad.

Due to the sensitivity of the Samaha’s case, Lebanon’s judiciary is reluctant to issue an indictment, fearing repercussions in the country, a high ranking judicial source told The Daily Star last month.

“There is a decision [by the judiciary] to freeze any decision-making in the case [of Samaha] or to finalize it awaiting the outcome of developments in Syria,” the source said.

 

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