News from Beirut March 6  1997  .......Search

Japan- Red Army

Lebanon council of ministers, held March 5 under president Elias Hrawi at Baabda palace, did not discuss the case of the Japanese detainees at it's weekly regular session yesterday, according to information minister Bassem Sabbaa. According to press reports here, the case will take in coming phase the following course :

1.The Lebanese judiciary will announce names of the eight detainees including a woman

2. To announce the result of the investigations which will confirm that Five of them are Red Army members, including Kozo Okamoto, who carried the 1972 operation against Lod airport in Israel

3.The investigation will prove that the Five were using fake passports from Brazil, Singapore and China, while the woman was holding a fake Spanish passport

4.The Lebanese judiciary will try them, not on the charge of being affiliates of the Red Army, but for the possession of forged passports, imitating the seals of the Lebanese surete generale. They will serve the sentences, which would range between six months and three years, in Lebanon

5. The Three other Japanese detainees, who did not commit any crime here, will be released and handed to their embassy in Beirut upon their request, including a Japanese security agent spy who revealed their arrest. This scenario is what will take place in the following days.

The scenario or package, as some reports put it, coincided or timed with President Assad receiving the Japanese envoy Hiroshi Hirabayashi, now in Damascus since March 4. The Japanese envoy Hirabayashi had met earlier in Damascus with Syrian foreign minister Farouk Sharaa.

The first secretary meeting with the detainees took place at the general prosecutor's office and in his presence for half an hour. The Japanese diplomat questioned the detainees about their detention's situation, health and way of treatment, he was not allowed to ask about the course of investigation and not allowed to speak with them by other than English. Mr Addoum did not deny that a Japanese security agent spy was among the detainees, neither he confirmed that Kozo Okamoto was among the them. According to media information, the Japanese spy, code name Sami, was among the group and he who had reported their arrest, when Lebanese security men raided their apartment in Beirut.

He reported the arrest of the group to the Japanese embassy in Beirut using his cellular, immediately before he was arrested together with the group. "Sami"  had confessed and admitted he is a Japanese security agency agent, during the preliminary investigations by the state security. Lebanese officials say the Japanese had made a big trap to Lebanon, by planting their agent among the detainees. He who was reporting the Japanese authority of their moves and whereabouts on frequent basis.

Council of Ministers' session

-Lebanon council of ministers, at it's weekly session yesterday under president Elias Hrawi, said to have centered on

1. The situation in the national industry specifically the situation at some firms. It instructed the public administrations to use the industrial national products, also the agricultural local products, and reviewed ways to protect the national industry .

2. The council postponed discussing a general plan on the quarries until next session, abolishing all temporary licenses, and banned the using of explosives at quarries until the general plan is formulated .

3. Discussed a report submitted by the information minister on the Tele Liban station.

President Hrawi, Prime minister Hariri, and all ministers unanimously agreed to protect this national media institution, and help it to carry on its national cultural and informational obligation. The council charged the information minister to take the legal measures to reorganize the station, in accordance to the law on audio-visual media, and to lay down a plan dealing with the station's financial and administrative situation, by proposing adequate financial resources.

Media reports said most of the session's time centered on the financial and administrative situation of the Tele Liban station. A total of L.L 9 bn, which is a due debt for the station should be paid by the state. The council put emphasis on the rescue of the station, by finding new financial resources and reorganizing it's administration.

Speaker Nabih Berri visit to Kuwait

-Speaker Nabih Berri, upon his return from Kuwait yesterday, said the Litani river's project is now put on trail, adding that Israel is still hopeful it can put it's hand on some of Lebanon's water. He said Lebanon had created the resistance as a "peace's weapon" and Israel cannot stand on the moving sands or stay in the Lebanese bees net. He said Lebanon had chosen to build it's peace depending on it's citizens and through building a destinal relation with Syria. He said, before departing Kuwait, he did not expect the Kuwaitee warm welcome and the bright success of his visit. Speaking at a reception held by the Lebanese embassy, he said Israel is facing in Lebanon the "deficiency of force" which became a reality, and noted that Israel can mass and build up a military machinery but cannot stand on the moving sands of Lebanon. He said the Israeli unabated aggressions on Lebanon aim against Lebanon's economy, to undermine it's formulation as an economical force competing Israel, also aim at putting it's hand on Lebanese water, destroy Lebanon tourism industry, and to blow Lebanon coexistence formula, by turning Lebanon into a problem for the Arabs, and to abolish Lebanon as a Lebanese, Arabic and international need. He said with the assistance of Kuwait and it's initiatives, Lebanon could adapt with the repercussions of the Israeli occupation, but Israel cannot adapt and tolerate the losses of staying in the bees net of Lebanon. Speaker Nabih Berri augurated the solidarity day with south and west Bekaa on 14th March and 18th April. He will announce the auguration today at a press conference, also the programme of activities during the day.

News In Brief

- President Elias Hrawi reviewed yesterday the public administration modernization and reformation process with minister of administrative reform Beshara Merhej.

- Prime minister Rafic Hariri discussed yesterday with the environment's minister Akram Shehayeb the general plan on quarries. Minister Shehayeb declared that the plan does not include setting up new quarries in new areas, neither to ban the present ones, adding that the residents' opinion and the environmental situation will be taken into consideration. Minister Shehayeb said there should be a regulation  of the quarries in allover Lebanon, including the Iqlim Kharoub area in the Chuf. He said the 700 operating quarries are too much for a small country such as Lebanon.

- Hariri discussed with Beirut deputy Tammam Salam the issue of the municipal election in Beirut. Salam called for consensus in Beirut so that the result would satisfy all residents of the capital. Hariri meeting with Armenian deputy Sebouh Hovanian focused on the waste dump at Burj Hammoud and the coming municipal election. He discussed with deputies Antoine Andraos and Wadeeh Akl the issue of repatriating the displaced and finding new resources to the displaced fund.

- The Lebanese contractors who held a meeting with Mr Hariri yesterday said their due money since 1992 will be paid. He also discussed with a delegation representing Beirut and north associations of engineers the law now under discussion by the parliament aiming to regulate the engineering profession in Lebanon. Hariri met speaker Nabih Berri at the latter's residence in Beirut who briefed him on the outcome of his visit to Kuwait.

-France's foreign minister Herve de Charette, expected today in Beirut for a stop of five hours. Lebanese media highlighted today his saying in Damascus yesterday that the situation in the M.E is extremely difficult and complicated. He is expected to brief the Lebanese top officials on his visit to Israel and Syria, also to discuss the issue of peace in the region, situation in south Lebanon, the monitoring group's work, and the European-Mediterranean dialogue conference. President Elias Hrawi cancelled his appointments for today in order to receive the French foreign minister.

- Justice minister Bahij Tabbarra received yesterday a security team from the USA accompanied by the US ambassador. They discussed pursue of the talks held earlier in Beirut with the American officials on combating trafficking and exportation of drugs.

- Lebanon foreign minister discussed with the Italian ambassador in Lebanon the preparations underway prior to Italian prime minister's visit to Beirut. He received also the newly appointed ambassador to the USA Mohammed Shatah, who said no date  yet was fixed to travel to Washington to assume his post.

- Parliament joint committees ended yesterday it's debate on the municipal election's new law. The committees endorsed the identification card, fixed the candidates application's deposit at 500 thousand L.L, formation of a municipal council at each village exceeding 500 residents, and double the number of mayors Mukhtars in each of the centres of the governorates and Qadaas. The committees also reached consensus on the principle of appointing mayors and councils in the occupied border strip. It also agreed to fix the term of both the mayor and the council at six years.

- Lebanon information minister Bassem Sabbaa decided yesterday to allow the circulation of Israel prime minister's book titled "a place under sun", reversing an earlier decision banning it. The announcement said the book contribute to the enhancement of Lebanese and Arabic public conscious and knowledge to  the Israeli and Zionist schemes, also reveals the ideas dictating Netanyahu.

- Former deputy August Bakhous, said to be shaken by the questioning of former prime minister Selim Hoss, over the outnumbered pardons granted by the president, asked publicly Mr Hoss if it is too much for the president to grant pardons. He said the pardons are one of the very few powers left to him. He called Hoss to visit the prisons in Lebanon to observe the miserable situation of the prisons and prisoners.

- Israeli warplanes raided yesterday a valley in the Iqlim Toffah firing several rockets but no casualties were reported. The SLA militia outpost at Saydoun east of sidon came under attack and the SLA reported no casualties.

- An NSSP party delegation headed by party president Ali Qansou discussed with the Papal Nuncio in Beirut yesterday the planned visit by Pope John Paul II. The party welcomed the visit and hoped it will contribute to the national unity, support the national causes and the liberation of the land from Israel. The party will submit a memo to his pontiff during the visit, briefing the party's view on the situation in Lebanon and the role of Christians here.

- Australian deputy Paul Zamit, speaking before Australia's federal parliament, demanded withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon, denounced the external interventions in it's internal affairs, and noted that Lebanon is forgotten when one speaks over peace and justice in the M.E. He added that the Lebanese people need to be free and real freedom only restored when Lebanon's territory is liberated.

- President of the Lebanese journalists' association Melhem Karam said in Kuwait that freedom of the press in Lebanon is out of any question, and that maintaining it permanently is guaranteed, as all the Lebanese stick to on the account of any sacrifice and giving.

- Shiite senior cleric Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine and Sunni Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, in a joint statement issued yesterday, emphasised that Lebanon has the right to resist the occupation, urged the Arabs to upgrade their solidarity .

-The ministry for displaced affairs evicted yesterday the occupants of hotel Mirador in Khalde area south of Beirut where most occupants are Syrians. Ministry official Jawad Zaitouni said 240 family and 600 person are occupying the hotel since 1989, but not all are displaced, and those really displaced ones will be given social assistance.

- Lebanon judicial council held yesterday marked the statements given by the prosecution, which demanded maximum severe penalty, to the then LF commander Samir Geagea and Manuel Yunis, charged of attempting in 1991 to assassinate the then interior minister Michel Murr. The court is nearing a final sentence at the end of next month. Today the council will hear the defendants and Samir Geagea. The prosecution yesterday said Samir Geagea was the decision maker of the LF at that time, he was not satisfied with the Taif agreement, the disband of the militias, and the deployment of army units in Kesrouan and Byblos. The prosecution refused to accept the defendants claim that the case is pardoned according to the pardon law. It said Michel Murr was and still is a political leader. The claimants demanded $11.5mn compensation and a death sentence against Mr Geagea, who will advocate himself at March 6 court session.

- Lebanese university lecturers staged a sit in strike at the university central office at the museum area, in another step aiming at improving the national institution. The university academic year and future of 47 thousand student is at stake now in view of the continued protests and strikes which so far did not receive respond from the government.


- Ansar team scored 3 goals in a match yesterday with Burj at Burj Hammoud stadium. Ansar defeated Burj with 3-0 difficult game and by that it is qualified to go up to the final stage of Lebanon-Pepsi cup. The 3 goals scored in an additional extra time and after Burj attacker Jihad Kanaan was kicked out after receiving second warning. Al Ansar is now going to play with Nejmeh .

- Riyadi-Beirut defeated the Tadamoun in the basketball championship with 81-79 at Jounieh stadium. The Riyadi is the only team that did not lose any match since the beginning. Ihyaa Riyada defeated Wardieh with 84-71. Hikmeh defeated Abnaa Niptone with 122-100.

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