BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army formed a tight security cordon around the vicinity of the Military Court in Beirut on Thursday as family and friends of Lebanese activist Kinda Al-Khatib protested outside. On December 14, Al-Khatib was sentenced to three years in prison with hard labor and the removal of her civil rights for collaborating with Israel.
The protesters carried pictures of activist Al-Khatib and banners quoting her anti-Hezbollah stance, including: “There is no weapon but Lebanese weapons.” The protesters allege that Al-Khatib’s sentence is politically motivated “because she revolted against the dictatorship of the ruling authority and parties in power.”
Al-Khatib's attorney, Joceline Rahi, said Al-Khatib would appeal her sentence, adding that her client is innocent of any crime.
Al-Khatib said in her testimony that a person called Roy Qaisi had contacted her on Twitter, saying he was a journalist working for Israeli Channel 11, and that when she found out he was Israeli, she informed the Lebanese security forces.
Asked why she had not blocked him, Al-Khatib said she believed her phone would be “under security surveillance,” and that there was nothing suspicious about her. All her accounts were public, she added.
Al-Khatib denied travelling to Israel, meeting with any Israelis, or providing Israel with any security information.
On Wednesday the Permanent Military Court, headed by Brig. Gen. Munir Shehadeh, issued two sentences in absentia against the famous singer Fadl Shaker, sentencing him to 22 years in prison with hard labor and stripping him of his civil rights.
The first ruling sentenced Shaker to 15 years in prison for “involvement in acts of terrorism committed by terrorists with his knowledge by providing logistical services to them.” The second ruling sentenced him to seven years in prison and fined him 5 million Lebanese pounds for financing Ahmed Al-Assir’s militant group.
Shaker was sentenced in 2017 to 15 years in prison with hard labor as part of the sentences against Ahmed Al-Assir for the Abra battles of 2013. Al-Assir and his supporters in Sidon had fought at the time against the Lebanese Army.
Shaker has been in hiding since, but has spoken several times to the media to claim that he was innocent. If Shaker surrenders himself to the judiciary, he will be retried while present at the trial.
Meanwhile, Judge Fadi Sawan, the judicial investigator in the Beirut port blast, suspended all investigations related to the case for a period of 10 days, pending the ruling of the Court of Cassation after two former ministers, Ghazi Zaiter and Ali Hassan Khalil, refused to appear before him and requested his removal from the case after Sawan accused them of negligence and causing the deaths of dozens.
On the same day, a delegation of the victims’ families met with Interior Minister Brig. Gen. Mohammad Fahmy to demand that the case not be politicized.
In a new scandal linked to Beirut port, the Lebanese army has discovered around 700 containers that have been in the port since 2005 and have no identifying documents or description of their contents. The Ministry of Finance has decided to have those containers inspected by the army and the customs authority.
French President Emmanuel Macron had called off his scheduled visit to Lebanon next week, having tested positive for COVID-19.
Hossam Zaki, Assistant Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, visited Lebanon on Thursday and met with several of officials. He said that resolving the political and economic complications facing Lebanon was the responsibility of Lebanese officials “because the Arab League will not be a substitute for any Lebanese party, but it will be a supportive party if the Lebanese desire.”