TUE 31 - 3 - 2020
Date: Dec 4, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
Hezbollah shows support for Wahhab
Future Movement lays blame on Wahhab for bodyguard's death
Ghinwa Obeid| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A Hezbollah delegation Monday showed support for pro-Syria politician Wiam Wahhab following the deadly shooting of his bodyguard in the Chouf village of Jahilieh, and said calm in the mountains was vital.

The delegation, which included Vice President of Hezbollah’s Political Council Mahmoud Qomati and Ghaleb Abou Zeinab, a member of the party’s politburo, offered condolences after Mohammad Abou Diab was fatally wounded Saturday.

“Mohammad sacrificed his blood for the Mountain ... and we stress that stability in Lebanon and the Mountain are two aims and a constant policy for the resistance,” Qomati told reporters.

“[We want] the Mountain to remain calm, safe and for [its residents] to live in coexistence,” he said.

Abou Diab was shot after an Internal Security Forces Information Branch unit was dispatched to Wahhab’s residence in an attempt to bring the Tawhid Party leader in for questioning, based on a judicial summons from State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud.

Wahhab, an ally of the Syrian regime and Hezbollah, had ignored multiple requests to appear for questioning, following a complaint over insults he had made about Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and his late father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

According to an ISF statement released after the incident, Abou Diab was shot when other supporters of Wahhab haphazardly opened fire, shooting into the air.

“The aim of what happened in Jahilieh wasn’t to apprehend Wahhab – there was more to it. The situation could have led to strife and a bloody massacre,” Qomati said.

“The security and military agencies should not be politicized,” he added, saying that Hezbollah stood beside its allies.

The delegation was preceded by a Free Patriotic Movement group offering condolences and led by caretaker Environment Minister Tarek Khatib. “We hope that [we] overcome all causes of tension,” Khatib said, addressing Abou Diab’s family.

“We consider Abou Diab to be a martyr for every [family in the Mountain region],” he added.

The FPM group is set to meet with Future Movement Secretary-General Ahmad Hariri at 11 a.m. Tuesday to discuss the latest developments.

Investigations into Abou Diab’s death began Monday, a judicial source told The Daily Star.

As the family received condolences at their home in the village, investigators from the Judicial Police’s Criminal Evidence Department, along with members of the Information Branch and local police in Baaqlin, descended on the town to uncover the circumstances behind the shooting.

A judicial source told The Daily Star that Hammoud had tasked Military Prosecutor Peter Germanos with the preliminary investigation, and that Germanos then tasked the Criminal Evidence Department with the forensic investigation.

When Wahhab announced Sunday morning that Abou Diab had succumbed to his wounds, he blamed Hariri, Hammoud and ISF head Imad Othman for the killing.

Speaking to reporters before heading to the Justice Palace in Beirut, Wahhab’s lawyer Maan al-Assaad said he was planning to request for legal action to be taken against Hammoud.

He told the reporters afterward that he had presented two requests before the Court of Appeals. One called for Hammoud to be removed from the Wahhab case and the other asked that the Publications Court take over Wahhab’s defamation case, instead of the Criminal Court.

A judicial source said Wahhab’s legal team wants the case tried in the Publications Court, which takes files related to defamation in the media, because the court would deal with the crime as a misdemeanor. However, the source said that Wahhab had been accused of “felony offenses that include inciting sectarian strife and threatening civil peace, so this case will be referred to the Criminal Court,” which would lead to imprisonment.

Assaad also told reporters that he had filed a complaint against Hammoud to the Judicial Inspection Authority, calling for a probe into the handling and implementation of the judicial summons that put Saturday’s events into motion.

“It is very unfortunate that we were placed in confrontation with the state prosecutor, who is a competent [judge],” Assaad told reporters after emerging from the palace, alleging that “political interests” were interfering in the case.

The judicial source said Hammoud will continue to oversee the case until the Court of Appeals issues decisions on Assaad’s requests.

Wahhab insulted Hariri and his late father without directly naming them in a video that circulated last week. The video made the rounds on social media days after Wahhab directly criticized the premier-designate on a talk show.

Earlier Monday, Jahilieh Mayor Amin Abou Diab told The Daily Star that “anger and sadness is dominating the whole area, not only Jahilieh. ... We don’t know if things will develop, it depends on the circumstances.”

Despite the tension, the mayor said a relative state of calm had returned to the town.

Future Movement lays blame on Wahhab for bodyguard's death

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