Lebanon seeks death penalty for Israeli ‘spies’

BEIRUT - A Lebanese military prosecutor on Monday called for three men to be sentenced to death on charges of spying for Israel and the attempted murder by one of them of an Al-Qaeda suspect.

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 12 Apr 2010, 8:04 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:34 AM

Judge Samih al-Hajj charged the defendants — two Lebanese and one Palestinian — with “providing Israel with information as well as facilitating its aggressions and terrorist acts on Lebanon,” according to the charge sheet.

Palestinian Mohammed Ibrahim Awad and Lebanese Robert Edmond Kfoury are both in custody. The third suspect, Lebanese Elias Riyad Karam, was charged in absentia.

Awad is also charged with the attempted murder of his relative Naim Abbas, who is suspected of involvement in an Al-Qaeda cell in the Ain al-Helweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon.

Ain al-Helweh is the largest of Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian camps and authorities say it has provided sanctuary for extremists and fugitives from the law.

By longstanding convention, the Lebanese army does not enter the camps, leaving security inside in the hands of Palestinians.

Lebanon launched a crackdown on espionage rings in April 2009, arresting dozens of suspects accused of spying for Israel, including security officials and policemen who were allegedly equipped with sophisticated surveillance and communication gear.

Israel has made no public comment on the arrests.

Lebanon and Israel remain technically at war, and convicted spies face life in prison with hard labour or the death penalty.

One of the most high-profile cases is that of Mahmud Qassem Rafeh, a 63-year-old retired member of Lebanon’s security services.

Rafeh was sentenced to death in February for having spied for Israel and for his involvement in the murder of brothers Mahmud and Nidal Mazjoub of the Islamic Jihad group.

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