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May 14, 2002

The Daily Star

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Addoum outraged as Phalange leader claims credit
Release of Ehden Massacre detainees raises storm 

State Prosecutor Adnan Addoum on Monday lambasted Phalange Party president Karim Pakradouni for taking credit in the release of four people detained following the reopening of the Ehden Massacre case.
Pakradouni had claimed in remarks he made Sunday that the release of three people from the Batroun villages of Kfar Abeida and one man from Kour was due to the “personal contacts he had made” at the top level.
In response, Addoum contended that no one “can influence the legal process in Lebanon.” Pakradouni later expressed gratitude to President Emile Lahoud for his efforts to free the detainees, who were rounded up for questioning on Sunday concerning the 1978 murder of former Minister Tony Franjieh by Lebanese Forces militiamen.
The late politician was the father of the current health minister, Suleiman Franjieh.
Addoum had stated Sunday that the four had simply been summoned during the course of investigations and were not detained. Only a fifth person from Kfar Abeida had remained in custody, whom Addoum said would be released “within the next 48 hours, after his interrogation was over.”
“As far as I know, Pakradouni is neither a magistrate nor an assistant state prosecutor,” Addoum told a news conference Monday at Beirut’s Justice Palace.
He stressed that Pakradouni was only a president of a political party and “was not allowed to interfere in the legal process.”
The state prosecutor further said that in Lebanon, there are laws and a justice minister to whom the state prosecutor’s office reports exclusively.
Addoum explained that the case of the murder of Tony Franjieh was in the hands of the judicial investigator, magistrate Abdullah Bitar.
He said that official warrants were issued for the five persons ordering them to be available for the continuing of the Ehden Massacre case, which involved the deaths of Tony Franjieh, his wife and daughter, and several dozen others.
Addoum asserted that the legal process in the case “was not biased in favor of or against anyone.” In an indirect attack against the Maronite patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, Addoum deplored “remarks on the issue recently made by some spiritual leaders.” He warned that “those who made such remarks should work toward amending judicial laws.”
The prosecutor said that some wartime murder cases were in the hands of the Judicial Council and were not covered by the general amnesty decree, which was issued at the end of the hostilities.
Sfeir had expressed his “astonishment” that the authorities were investigating the Tony Franjieh murder, and he went on to criticize the “reopening of old civil war files.”
Separately, a delegation of residents from Kfar Abeida on Monday thanked Sfeir for his help in securing the release of the four local residents. The former captives expressed their gratitude to Sfeir for his quick response to demands made after they were detained.
The delegates urged Sfeir to continue working to secure the release of Antoine Youssef and Hanna Shallita, the latter detained since 1994, “in order to stop opening wounds, which only serve the interests of Lebanon’s enemies.”

Copyright The Daily Star

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