Controversy over unprecedented court ruling for dog killer in Lebanon

A volunteer takes care of the dogs at a BETA center in Baabda city, Lebanon. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 12 August 2018
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Controversy over unprecedented court ruling for dog killer in Lebanon

  • The dog was a stray that had terrified people for days, biting the elderly and children, and Salameh decided to drag him with his car to take him away from the neighborhood
  • Salameh was caught throwing a dog called Alexa from the second floor of a car park

BEIRUT: In an unprecedented ruling in Lebanon, Mansour El Kahi, an investigative judge, has sentenced a man to 10 days in prison and a fine of $2,670 for torturing dogs.
The sentence, which is subject to appeal, stirred controversy among the public. Some welcomed the decision since Lebanon has recently witnessed reprehensible violations against stray dogs, but others responded with cynicism. One activist on social media said: “(Judicial authorities) overlooked all other criminal cases and hundreds of arrested people and gave consideration to dogs.”
The defendant, Georges Salameh, tortured dogs in 2016, according to witnesses. A statement by Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (BETA) said: “We received a desperate call to stop a man from killing more dogs in Sin el Fil; witnesses saw a man tie up a dog to a street pole and run him over to death.” Salameh was later seen getting back into his car, running over the dog and making sure it was dead before fleeing the scene.
The organization decided to follow up the case. Salameh was caught throwing a dog called Alexa from the second floor of a car park, then rushing to his car to follow her again and try to “viciously beat her and run her over.”
“BETA volunteers were in the area on a daily basis, trying to monitor the situation, catch the abuser in the act and build up a stronger case against him, and the same dog was rescued in the nick of time.”
The organization filed a complaint and followed it up for two years until the sentence was finally announced. It described the sentence as a first step toward justice, and indicated that if the ruling were based on the New Animal Protection and Welfare Law (Law 47) enacted in 2017, the sentence would have resulted in between three months’ and two years’ imprisonment and sanctions that might vary from LBP3 million ($1,990) and LBP 50 million.
Media activist Fares Al-Gemayel had a different opinion. He was the first to comment on the sentencing, refusing to rely on a video of Salameh with the dog in his car which was filmed by the volunteers.
He told Arab News that the incident happened near his sister’s house. The dog was a stray that had terrified people for days, biting the elderly and children, and Salameh decided to drag him with his car to take him away from the neighborhood. He added that Salameh did not mean to abuse the dog.
Al-Gemayel said he had reservations about the sentencing: “People raising pets should know their duties toward others and not abandon their animals in the streets when they no longer want them. They should not annoy others with their dogs and they should know their limits.”
“When matters become clear in terms of rights and duties, it is then that the law applies to everyone,” he noted.
He mentioned a crime “that happened a year ago between neighbors in Keserwan, and the dispute escalated due to the barking of a dog at night, which led to shootings and the death of one of the neighbors.”
Al-Gemayel, who has been following up on the case, added that Salameh had appealed the sentence against him.


Netanyahu faces snap election calls after defense minister quits

Updated 14 min 48 sec ago
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Netanyahu faces snap election calls after defense minister quits

  • Avigdor Lieberman quit on Wednesday over what he described as the government’s too-soft policy on cross-border violence with Palestinian militants
  • The loss of the five seats of Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu faction leaves Netanyahu with control of just 61 of the 120 seats in parliament

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced calls on Thursday from his coalition partners to hold an early election, a day after the defense minister’s resignation left the government with a razor-thin majority.
Avigdor Lieberman quit on Wednesday over what he described as the government’s too-soft policy on cross-border violence with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
The loss of the five seats of Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu faction leaves Netanyahu with control of just 61 of the 120 seats in parliament, raising the prospect that a scheduled November 2019 election would be brought forward.
Lieberman’s resignation takes effect 48 hours after being handed in, which he did early on Thursday. Each coalition partner will then have the power to bring down the government.
To avert a crisis, Netanyahu has been holding talks with ministers in an effort to stabilize the government.
Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads the centrist Kulanu party, said he told Netanyahu in their meeting that the responsible step to take would be to establish a new and stable government.
“The best thing for Israel’s citizens and economy is to hold an election as soon as possible,” Kahlon said in a statement. His call was echoed by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri who heads the ultra-Orthodox Shas faction.
Adding to the pressure, Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the far-right Jewish Home party, has demanded the defense brief by given to him.
Both Lieberman and Bennett, who compete with Netanyahu’s Likud for right-wing voters, have spoken in favor of harsh Israeli military action against Gaza’s dominant Hamas Islamists.
Israel has fought three wars in Gaza since Hamas took over the enclave in 2007.
“I asked the prime minister yesterday to appoint me defense minister to fulfil one goal only — that Israel start winning again,” Bennett said at a conference near Tel Aviv.
Jewish Home said on Wednesday that without the defense brief, there would be no point in keeping the government together.
However Bennett did not repeat this in his remarks on Thursday nor did he render an explicit ultimatum to Netanyahu, with whom he is due to meet on Friday.
It was unclear whether Netanyahu would opt for an early election.
Netanyahu is under investigation for corruption, and speculation has been rife that he may bring the ballot forward in order to win a renewed mandate before Israel’s attorney-general decides whether to indict him.
A poll published on Wednesday by Israel’s Hadashot television news showed Likud falling by one seat from 30 to 29 after months of surveys that have shown it gaining power. Only 17 percent of respondents were happy with Netanyahu’s Gaza policy.