BEIRUT: A Lebanese military tribunal on Thursday charged seven people over the December attack on a UN peacekeeping convoy, which left one Irish soldier dead and three others wounded.
Lebanese military court judge Fadi Akiki laid the charges, which carry sentences of up to 20 years’ imprisonment with hard labor. Though the charges were based on an intent to murder, the attack was not deemed premeditated.
Akiki said that the incident, which took place in the southern town of Al-Aqabiya, happened in the spur of the moment and was not planned in advance.
One of those charged, Mohammed Ayad, is in custody after being handed over to the security services by Hezbollah. Four fugitives, against whom search and investigation warrants were issued, as well as two other unidentified fugitives, were also charged.
During the initial interrogation, Ayad told investigators that he shot at the UNIFIL vehicle with a machine gun.
Seven bullets struck the vehicle, two of which passed through a headrest, instantly killing the driver, 23-year-old Pvt. Sean Rooney.
Hezbollah, which was quick to deny any responsibility for the incident, handed over Ayad two weeks after the attack.
An investigation found that the incident began when a group of about 50 people attacked the vehicle with sticks and other objects.
When Ayad later opened fire, killing Rooney, the vehicle crashed into an electricity pole, causing a severe head injury to another passenger.
A judicial source told Arab News: “The vehicle was separated from a convoy that was headed to Beirut from southern Lebanon at night. The lost vehicle was confronted in two different locations in Al-Aqabiya before the attack.”
Akiki referred his decision to first military investigative judge Fadi Sawan, who will interrogate Ayad based on further testimonies and the findings of a UNIFIL investigation.
The charges brought against the fugitives included attempted murder, sabotaging a military vehicle and threatening by shooting in the air.