News from Beirut March 8  1997  .......Search

Japan-Red Army

Lebanon judiciary is to start as of today the first step of the judicial procedure, beginning with the preliminary individual investigation, with each of the Japanese five Red Army members. Lebanese arrested woman Omaya Abboud, appeared in public yesterday at the justice palace, for the first time since her arrest. Investigating judge Saeed Mirza, following four hour investigation, issued an arrest warrant against her.

The judicial side of the case is now on the track, but political and diplomatic is still to be seen. Over 60 Lebanese lawyers, from different political tendencies volunteered to defend the case of the Red Army members. One lawyer said they volunteered in gratitude for a friend of Lebanon, Arabs, and Palestine, the one who fought Israel and stood behind our national causes. He was refering to Kozo Okamoto, who carried the attack against Lod airport in 1972. Among the volunteers deputy Najah Wakim and Zaher Khatib. The volunteers said as they are ready to defend the case, they express their respect to the Japanese people and government, and said their stand does not contradict to the friendship with the Japanese people, but it is a stand that goes in line and faithful to the principle of healthy trial and the maintain of the principles of democracy and justice in Lebanon.

However, the Japanese were determined to refuse anyone to defend their case, either Lebanese or foreigner, and quoted saying they do not care for the fate they will face in Lebanon. The Lebanese bar association appointed two lawyers to defend the case, upon the request of the investigating judge, after they have declared they have no defendants.

Aside from the judicial procedures, the media reports said an inquiry is underway in Lebanon to specify the error and misconduct in the state security agency, and those involved in having links with foreign intelligences, Japanese or else, and who held financial deals for providing certain services, will be refered to military court.

The general prosecutor Adnan Addoum received yesterday the Japanese security team for a short time. The team said they extended thanks and appreciation to the Lebanese political and judicial authority for their efforts and cooperation. Other media reports said it is affirmative that Japan did not show enthusiasm to extradite the five, but some reports said Japan already demanded extradition in a memorandum handed to foreign ministry here earlier in the week. Furthermore, the reports said Japan had faced the same case in the past with four other governments, with which no agreement on extradition signed, and could extradite four Red Army members, naming Nepal, Peru, Rumania and Philippine.

The Lebanese media has questioned today under what authority is the state security agency, arguing if it is the time now to define clearly that authority. The Japanese security team and the Japanese reporters extended their residence in Beirut to follow up the judicial course, at time the Japanese envoy returned back to Tokyo directly from Damascus. A leading report today questioned how Tokyo could know about the arrest before Beirut, what is the background of this "dirty operation" and why the Japanese penetration to Beirut, which breached all international customs was not protested by Lebanon, wondering if this is a Japanese blackmail to both Lebanon and Syria at a delicate regional moment.

The report said those Japanese retired since 20 years and they too are incapable now. It also argued how intelligences could penetrate into the Lebanese security system that way and why the system is not inquired. There are articles today that highlight Kozo Okamoto as a case, and one article said if he should be tried then all those who were and still fighting Israel should stand for trial too.

Cardinal Sfair- Imam Shamseddine

Cardinal Sfair arrived yesterday to Reo de Janeiro, fifth station in his visit to Brazil. He said earlier in Bello Orizonti that the Lebanese will is restricted, and there is an impasse before taking the free decision, though that won't last for ever. The cardinal said everything in Lebanon is limited including freedom, democracy and the freedom of expression.

He regarded the economical crisis as a result of the Lebanese crisis, and described the Pope's planned visit , a visit that bears courage, hope and would consolidate the Christian faith and the Lebanese coexistence. He said the visit will help the repatriation of the displaced and encourage them to return back to their original places, something will improve the religious and material situation.

Shiite senior cleric Imam Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine, in his Friday prayer's address, criticised the latest stands of Cardinal Sfair during his visit to Brazil, but without naming him. Shamseddine said he is dismayed of the weep and cry over Lebanon's will. He said " if Lebanon's will is to go and negotiate Netanyahu or Peres, in order to produce another 17th May accord, or the Oslo accord, I say this is not the will of Lebanon but a will of a group of treason and defeat, because Lebanon's true will is the will of resistance and will of refusing capitulation".

News in Brief

- France foreign minister de Charette, during his stop in Beirut, gave the impression that his recent tour in the M.E was futile. Israeli prime minister Netanyahu is not in hurry to resume peace talks, and perhaps he persuaded the US administration of his concept to freeze the peace process, Lebanese media said. The minister felt that Israel is not in anyway ready to respond to any French initiative to regenerate the peace talks, first because Israel does not want to concede to France instead of  the USA, and because second Israel is not ready to respond to France's suggestions trying to concile the opposite views of Syria and Israel. He was quoted as awared of the future of the monitoring group in south Lebanon, which would carry on in an atmosphere of a moving peace course at least, but if not, the group won't be able to control any outbreak of violence as long as channels of negotiations are closed.

- Former prime minister Omar Karami said the case of the Japanese is a scandal. He continued, "it is a scandal too the outnumbered security agencies in Lebanon, and lack of coordination among them ". He said he still considers the state a farm like state, as all institutions are paralysed and those functioning well are undermined. He casted doubt that the municipal election is going to be held, despite the election card of the interior minister.

- Deputy of Aley Antoine Andraos, who still run the displaced fund, said there is hegemony by one community against another. He added that the prerogatives of the president should be again returned to him, suggesting the term of the speaker to be shortened to 2 instead of 4 years. Andraos called for legalizing the civil marriage and the abolishment of the political confessionalism.

- Israeli warplanes staged mock raids over the Iqlim Toffah and middle sector in south. The Israeli artillery combed by shells fire the hideouts of the resistance and accesses to the occupied security zone. The Israeli navy intercepted a vessel carrying used cars from Germany and seized the ship for 16 hours before allowing it to sail to Tyre seaport. A Lebanese citizen from the village of Teir Harfa was detained by the SLA.

- The parliament preparatory committee and council of south held consecutive meetings yesterday with the representatives of the various political parties, Beirut merchants'association, and syndicates, to coordinate their efforts aimed at lending success to the occasion of 14th march and 18th April or the south solidarity day. The Arab League S.G Ismat Abdel Magid is due to arrive to Beirut next Friday to participate in the solidarity day on south. He is scheduled to meet top officials to discuss the situation in south Lebanon.

- Interior minister Michel Murr said the municipal election new law will be approved at the first session of the parliament. He said the appointment of mayors and municipal councils in the occupied border zone will be decided at the council of ministers, with the approval of majority of the deputies of the constituency.

- Environment minister Akram Shehayeb is due to visit Syria tomorrow heading a delegation of his ministry to discuss with Syrian counterpart the environmental problems and cooperation between two ministries.

- Prime minister Hariri discussed with the Egyptian ambassador in Lebanon his country's protest to the ban in Lebanon on potato imports from Egypt. Lebanon agriculture minister who attended the meeting said the Lebanese ban was in favour of the local product. Minister Shawki Fakhoury is due to leave to Qatar to sign agreement on agricultural cooperation, and to negotiate Qatar more agricultural imports from Lebanon.

-The Prime minister's office, in an official statement, denied that Mr Hariri is willing to run for the post of Beirut municipality's head or the post of secretary general of the council. The statement said he is looking for a consensus with the Beirutis that provides proper services for the capital. A press report published here said Mr Hariri is thinking to run for the post.

-The crew of the French helicopter carrier Jeanne d'Arc visited president Hrawi and speaker Nabih Berri.

-Information minister Bassem Sabbaa said the audio-visual file will be finalised in coming weeks. He said the National Council of Information is now studying the applications for media licenses. He said he is keen to maintain media freedom and he is not a dictator.

-The Lebanese outgoing ambassador in the USA Riyad Tabbara said the Americans are determined on the success of peace in the region and they are hopeful the Syrian-Israeli peace talks to be resumed shortly. Mr Tabbara denied any disagreement with the officials in Lebanon behind his resignation. He said since the beginning he accepted only a two years service term.

-Lawyers Edmond Naim and Edmond Rizk, defendant of Samir Geagea, staged yesterday, at the Judicial Council session, a strong campaign against the indictment of Geagea on the attempted assassination of Michel Murr. Lawyer Naim  said the case is political, and consequently lies under the pardon law stipulation. Lawyer Edmond Rizk reviewed the political stands of Mr Geagea and said without him the Taif agreement could not have advanced an inch. He said Geagea has eased the entry of the army units to east Beirut and helped the state project, refering to the testimonies given by minister Mohsen Dalloul and Albert Mansour. The judicial council is to turn on next Monday the last chapter of the case of Murr, after Samir Geagea and lawyer Issam Karam give their statement. The sentence will follow deliberation of the court behind the closed doors, which will not open until the sentence is announced.

-Mohammed Zaidan, Lebanese, won the Havana cigar cup of the year for marketing, distribution and sale. He is the exclusive distributor of the famous Cohiba cigar in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.


-Homentmen soccer team defeated Riyada wal Adab 2-1 yesterday at Tripoli stadium. The Homentmen now on third rank and the Riyada is 7th.

-At Burj Hammoud stadium the Ikhaa-Aley and the homenmen ended their football match with no goals and bad performance for both.

-The Kahraba defeated Beit Meri with 67-66 in the Lebanon's basketball championship. Antranik defeated the Mont La salle with 97-80. Shabab - Ghobeiri won the Anibale with 88-82.

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