الاثنين في ٢٣ تشرين الاول ٢٠١٧ ، آخر تحديث : 10:02 م
YouTube Twitter Facebook RSS English French Portuguese
Samaha again confesses criminal scheme in court
 
 
 
 
 
 
22-01-2016
 
Former Information Minister Michel Samaha reiterated his confession Thursday to the Military Court, saying he brought explosives from Syria in his car and cooperated with a Lebanese informant to plan acts of terrorism. A week after being released on bail, Samaha stood before the Military Court of Cassation and confessed once more to the criminal scheme, which would have begun with the mining of crossings on Lebanon's northern border.

Samaha said he was aware that civilians would be killed and not just militants.

Judge Tony Lattouf, head of the court, asked Samaha about his relationship with undercover police informant Milad Kfoury and the period during which the two grew close.

Samaha said he knew Kfoury as far back as1990, when he was a security official in the Lebanese Forces. Their relationship continued, and became stronger around 2005.

'In February 2012, Kfoury started to bring up the [issue] of security chaos along the Lebanese-Syrian border with me – militants' infiltration and the issue of weapons smuggling in both directions,” Samaha told the court.

'He gradually developed the issue until he told me in April 2012 about the need to carry out a security operation on the border that would stop [Syrian rebels'] infiltration [of Lebanese borders], in order to protect Lebanon.”

Samaha explained that he had not worked with Kfoury previously in any security organization or political party. He said the aim of carrying out the border operation was to support Lebanon's interests, 'especially as [then-] Prime Minister Najib Mikati's Cabinet adopted the disassociation policy on what was happening in Syria, and didn't provide the political cover for the Lebanese Army to control the border.”

This prompted Lattouf to ask Samaha: 'You say that you are a politician, a diplomat and have wide [experience in] international relations, how could someone discuss with you a security-related topic? ... Don't you see that this is surprising?”

Samaha answered, 'Yes, at the beginning I was surprised, but I later agreed to protect my country.”

Samaha was convicted on terrorism charges in May of 2015 for smuggling explosives into Lebanon and planning attacks on political and religious leaders. He was originally sentenced to four and a half years in prison, but following an outcry over the leniency of his sentence the verdict was annulled and a retrial was ordered.

The former minister has blamed Kfoury for tricking him into planning the attacks.

During the questioning, the ex-minister gave specific dates of his meetings with Kfoury.

They held two meetings in early June, and it was during the second that Kfoury informed Samaha that he had a group in north Lebanon capable of carrying out operations on the border against militants and mining illegal crossings in the northern towns of Mqaibleh, Hayshi and Knayse.

'At first I [just went along with it], then to a certain extent he convinced me and [I] agreed to that to stop the security chaos,” Samaha said. He stressed that during these two meetings Kfoury didn't bring up the issue of targeting political and religious figures.

Lattouf also questioned Samaha over the issue of explosives and why they were brought from Syria rather than purchased in Lebanon.

The former minister explained that this was done at Kfoury's request, as he had said that he didn't want anyone in Lebanon to know what he was up to.

'During the meeting that took place between us on July 19, Kfoury told me that he had a group ready to carry out security work, with a stolen car and motorcycles to carry out these missions.”

Samaha claimed that at the time he wasn't thinking about the consequences. 'And I didn't think about the dangers of transferring explosives in my car from Damascus to Beirut,” he added.

He proceeded to cite the events during another meeting with Kfoury on July 21.

'[Kfoury] provided me with a list of the required explosives that I previously received initial approval for from the Syrians,” Samaha said.

'He also asked me for $200,000 to pay for the group that would carry out the attack, and when I went back to Damascus and handed [the list] to Col. Adnan, he took my car keys and after a short time he came back and informed me that he placed in it this and that [explosives, bombs and detonators].”

Col. Adnan is the director of the office of Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, head of the Syrian National Security Bureau.

Mamlouk was also charged with smuggling explosives into Lebanon in order to carry out bombings.

'It never crossed my mind that the Syrians would put the explosives in my car. I was surprised by that but I transferred them and didn't object to it,” replied Samaha, when asked why he had agreed to put 25 explosives in his car despite the dangers. 'I was reassured that I would not be checked on the border,” he said.

Lattouf grilled Samaha on other specifics, regarding some of which the former minister remained silent.

One such encounter was when the judge asked Samaha whether he was expecting to kill civilians along the border as a result of his actions, knowing that smugglers of diesel, wheat and food supplies use the illegal crossings.

'I was expecting to kill people, but the aim was halting militants who were infiltrating, who were violating Lebanese sovereignty,” Samaha replied.

'And did you consider yourself responsible for protecting the border, instead of the Lebanese state?” Lattouf asked him. After a long pause Samaha said, 'I will not answer the question.”

Samaha emphasized that Kfoury's request for money didn't prompt him to rethink their project.

'When he started talking to me about targets, other than mining crossings, I doubted his ability to do that but I [went along with it] because I knew that he wouldn't implement [this plan],” he said.

The response drew a rebuke from Lattouf. 'How do you trust his ability to mine crossings and bomb militant gatherings, despite its risks, and [yet] don't trust his ability to bomb gatherings of civilians and iftar tables”

The session was adjourned to Feb. 4.

As the trial was ongoing, families of Islamist prisoners held a brief protest outside the courthouse rejecting the former information minister's release on bail as their relatives remain in custody without trial.

Meanwhile, new leaked videos of Samaha emerged Thursday. A series of leaked recordings targeting the former minister have surfaced since his release.

MTV broadcast a recording of Samaha speaking on the phone with Mamlouk, asking him about the 'list of medicines,” in reference to the list of explosives. Another leaked video was apparently filmed during Samaha's interrogation.

The footage showed him being inspected by doctors and eating pizza and mankousheh, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.

The aim of its release was apparently to refute claims that Samaha confessed under pressure.
 
To add any comments, you have to be logged in or registered
 
Last Comments
 
No Comments till now.


 
أخبار متعلقة
لا يوجد أخبار متعلقة