Warrants against Saqr, Hariri informally received: minister

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Arrest warrants issued by Syria against former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and MP Oqab Saqr were sent informally, Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi told The Daily Star Monday.

“The warrants were only received via email, no copies were handed over to the Justice Ministry to decide how to address the issue yet,” said Qortbawi.

Last week, Syria issued warrants for Hariri, Saqr and Free Syrian Army spokesman Louay Meqdad over charges of providing weapons and funds for “terrorist groups” in Syria.

The warrants are based on recordings aired by local media outlets allegedly implicating Saqr in arming rebels, at the behest of Hariri.

Saqr has denied such accusations and said the recordings were doctored. The Zahle MP has insisted he was providing Syrians with humanitarian aid and said allegations against him are aimed at distorting the role of Hariri, who heads Lebanon’s Future Movement, in helping Syrians.

The warrants were reportedly rebuffed by the International Criminal Police Organization, Interpol, according to local media and Saqr.

A judicial source told The Daily Star that the Lebanese judiciary has not received anything related to the Syrian warrants from Interpol.

According to the source, Lebanon’s judiciary cannot proceed with any legal measures regarding the case unless it is officially handed over the warrants.

“The Lebanese judiciary cannot address the case when it only gets it via email. It has to receive a rough copy of the file including evidence and relevant documents,” said the source.

The source said that, after being rebuffed by Interpol, the Syrian authorizes likely decided not to proceed with warrants and replaced them with a lawsuit against MP Saqr.

Meanwhile, Rashad Salameh, a Lebanese lawyer appointed by the Syrian Embassy in Beirut said a lawsuit against Saqr would be finalized by Wednesday.

“I am finalizing the lawsuit and I will present it tomorrow or after tomorrow,” Salameh told The Daily Star.

Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim Ali appointed Salameh last week to file the suit against “anyone who participated, incited, funded and sent arms [to Syrian rebels] and were actual accomplices in shedding the blood of Syrians.”

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