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Lebanonwire, May 21, 2002

The Daily Star

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Missing LF man found dead in capital
Discovery of decomposed body sparks outrage  

Hadi Khatib
Daily Star staff

The decomposed body of Ramzi Irani was found in Beirut’s Caracas neighborhood on Monday evening, some two weeks after the pro-Lebanese Forces engineer disappeared.
Police discovered the body, swollen and covered with black grime, around 6.30pm in the trunk of a late-model car after an unidentified individual reported a strong odor coming from the car parked across from the Tahiti Tower.
The body was then taken to the American University of Beirut Medical Center. Officials there cited “exceptional” circumstances in barring entry to reporters.
According to a distant relative of the deceased who spoke to reporters, the car was registered in Irani’s name but it remained unclear how long the vehicle had been in the area.
Beirut Chief Investigating Magistrate Hatem Madi told The Daily Star that the hospital’s coroner was examining the body to determine both the date and cause of death. He said no official statement would be made until the coroner completed his preliminary report.
Family members reached at home by telephone refused to comment, but cries of grief could be heard.
Order of Engineers president Sobhi Bsat, who visited the Irani family home in Achrafieh to offer his condolences immediately after word of Irani’s death spread, called the murder a “flagrant violation of human rights and a setback for the country’s civil peace.” He called on the authorities to immediately find the culprits and punish them as severely as possible.
The order, which will hold an emergency meeting tomorrow, pledged that the group would continue to follow up the issue.
Karim Pakradouni, the president of the Phalange Party, called the murder a “violation of the security of every citizen and of civil peace.”
Pakradouni also urged the authorities to act swiftly in solving the case and punishing those responsible.
Irani, 36, was reported missing on May 8, a day after he failed to return to his Achrafieh home from his workplace in Hamra.
Earlier Monday, State Prosecutor Adnan Addoum confirmed that a man had been arrested in connection with Irani’s disappearance. However, Addoum did not disclose the individual’s identity, nor the kind of information he might have.
Earlier in the day, Irani’s wife Jocelyne visited President Emile Lahoud at Baabda Palace, saying afterward that the president showed a “personal interest” in her husband’s case.
The Irani family also held a meeting in Araya, attracting Minister of State for Administrative Development Fouad Saad, Minister of State Pierre Helou, Baabda MPs Antoine Ghanem and Abdullah Farhat, Aley MP Antoine Andraos and the mayors of Shiyah, Hazmieh and Araya.
Helou said he did not think the investigations up to that point had indicated neglect, “but rather a difficulty” in unearthing any clues.
Helou pledged to the Lebanese people and Irani’s family to “continue our efforts … relentlessly.”
For his part, Saad said it was the duty of authorities to find Irani, adding that “the government cannot admit its inability to expose a kidnapping of a man in broad daylight in the heart of the capital.”
Irani’s wife said her call for the release of her husband
was “humanitarian.”
“We want to know something that could give us a small hope on his whereabouts,” she said. “I urge all those concerned, those who have a father, a brother, and a missing person to help us on the humanitarian level.”
Elsewhere, Parliament’s Committee for the Defense of Students’ Liberties discussed the issue and received Irani’s family.
The committee said the issue was “a shock to Lebanese public opinion,” and stressed the responsibility of the concerned authorities to reveal Irani’s whereabouts in order to “restore confidence in state institutions.”

Copyright The Daily Star

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