Five Persons Arrested in Relation to Hobeika Killing
Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces arrested another man over the weekend, bringing to five the number of people questioned in connection with the killing of former Minister and militia leader Elie Hobeika and three of his bodyguards.
According to the Lebanese Daily Star, Antoine Ruhayem, a car dealer from Jezzine, was picked up Saturday for questioning related to the sale of the Mercedes that was packed with explosives and used to kill Hobeika. In the investigation’s first arrests, police had detained George Hanna, the original owner of the car, and his cousin, Charbel Hanna, in their hometown of Ain al-Mir in southern Lebanon.
Two other men were arrested up on Friday, apparently as witnesses to the sale, although the security forces did not release their names.
George Hanna told investigators he sold the dark blue Mercedes for $9,000 one month ago to two men who apparently provided him with false identity papers. Ruhayem owned the dealership in Jezzine where George Hanna had placed the car for sale.
Ruhayem apparently was a witness to the sale between Hanna and the two persons, security forces said Sunday on condition of anonymity. Charbel Hanna, the cousin who also was held as a witness to the deal, gave a detailed description of the buyers who are being sought by police, the sources added.
Meanwhile, public officials continued to condemn the assassination of Hobeika and accused Israel of being behind the operation.
Lebanon’s Labor Minister Ali Qanso that the Israelis were the only party who would benefit from Hobeika’s death. He said that “it wouldn’t be an assumption” to say that the Israelis masterminded the operation in order to silence a material witness to the Sabra and Shatila massacres. “But if Sharon’s plans to kill Hobeika have succeeded, his intention to shake the civil peace in the country will not,” he predicted, adding that the authorities would strongly repress any attempt to sow civil strife in Lebanon.
Energy and Water Minister Mohammed Abdel-Hamid Beydoun said Hobeika’s assassination was a “message from Sharon” to the Arabs that there will be no peace in the region and that the Arabs will be forced to live under his mercy. “We the Arabs should convey another message telling Sharon that he will fail because he is a war criminal,” Beydoun said. (Albawaba.com)
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