Lebanon defends detention of four army generals

The Lebanese government on Tuesday said the detention of four high-ranking army officers in connection with the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri was "perfectly legal.

Lebanon defends detention of four army generals
"The government statement came in response to criticism by the Geneva-based United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which has called for the men's release, saying their detention without charge since August 2005 was "arbitrary" and "unjust."

"The arrests are in accordance with Lebanese and international law," the statement said, adding that the men could not be released for fear they would flee and that critical evidence would be lost.

"Influential parties could also provide them with refuge in Lebanon or in a country that has an interest in burying any evidence related to the crime," the statement added.

The officers being held are: Lebanon's former presidential guard chief General Mustafa Hamdan, the former head of the general security department General Jamil Sayyed, the former head of the internal security forces General Ali Hajj and the former chief of army intelligence General Raymond Azar. All have denied any wrongdoing.

According to a recent UN report on Hariri's assassination in February 2005, a "criminal network" of individuals carried out the killing, which amounted to one of the worst political crimes in Lebanon since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Hariri's murder led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after 30 years of military presence and also tension in the bilateral relations between the two neighbouring countries.
Last Mod: 16 Nisan 2008, 14:32
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