Lebanese Christian Leader: Sharon ‘Orchestrated’ Sabra and Shatilla Massacres
A Lebanese Phalangist leader whose militia was involved in the 1982 massacres of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatilla camps says Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon orchestrated the mass killing.
Karim Pakradouni, vice president of the Phalange Party, said Monday that he would file a lawsuit against Sharon and reveal that the former Israeli defense minister was directly behind the massacres, in which at least 800 men, women and children lost their lives.
“I will prove that the use of violence and massacres is a common practice by the Israelis to persecute Arabs,” he was quoted as saying by the Lebanese Daily Star on Monday.
Pakradouni, a lawyer by profession, cited history to prove his point.
He referred to the 1948 slaughter of Palestinians at Deir Yassin by Jewish militiamen, the 1996 massacre of Lebanese refugees in Qana, and the brutal treatment of Palestinians during the Intifada.
He said he had agreed to a request from the Libyan-based International Kadhafi Charity Foundation to file the lawsuit, adding that he took the liberty to do so for both personal and patriotic reasons.
Pakradouni called on Lebanese and Arabs alike for assistance by contacting him or the foundation if they had any information regarding the Sabra and Shatila massacres.
The massacres were carried out by the leader of the military wing of the Christian Phalange Party, but the militiaman-turned-politician has recently professed his innocence.
Elie Hobeika told a press conference earlier in July that he had evidence proving he had nothing to do with the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in the two camps.
Hobeika, who held several portfolios in postwar cabinets and lost his seat as Baabda MP in last year’s polls, also expressed willingness to appear before a Belgian court currently hearing the case against Sharon.
The Israeli premier has been indicted for crimes against humanity for his role in the massacres, under a 1993 Belgian law which allows the court to try war crimes cases unrelated to Belgium.
Hobeika did not elaborate on the nature of the documents, but he repeatedly stressed that they would “change the story told by the Kahan Commission.”
In 1983, Israel’s Kahan Commission blamed Hobeika, then a top-ranking Lebanese Forces official, for personally directing the Sabra and Shatila slaughter.
The commission also found then-defense minister Sharon “indirectly responsible” for the deaths, and said he had disregarded “the dangerous acts of vengeance and bloodshed” committed by Lebanese Forces militiamen inside the camps.
Nearly two dozen survivors of the killings filed suit in a Belgian court last month, accusing Sharon of crimes against humanity. The suit, spearheaded by prominent Lebanese lawyer Chibli Mallat.
Hobeika, who has yet to face any criminal inquiry over his possible role in the killings, said he was looking forward to the trial because it offered him a chance to prove his innocence and that of the “Lebanese party which the Israelis incriminated.”
“I am totally comfortable discussing the Sabra and Shatila issue before the Belgian court,” he said. “Perhaps, I will be given an opportunity, for the first time in 19 years, to expose the truth, defend myself, and present hard-core, irrefutable evidence … that I am innocent.”
But Hobeika denied that he might testify against Sharon in order to cut a deal with those trying to indict the Israeli prime minister, said the Daily Star. “I don’t need to make any deals,” he said.
He also described Belgium as “a neutral location far from the influence of political pressures,” and said he was speaking because the time was “right” for him to “act after a long period of silence.”
Without specifically naming the Lebanese Forces, Hobeika said he possessed evidence which would exonerate the militia of any involvement. However, he did acknowledge that there was “Lebanese involvement” in the massacres, but dismissed previous claims by reporters that eyewitness accounts had placed him at the scene.
“You know this is not true,” he told a reporter who said there was TV footage of Hobeika in the camps. “I dare anyone to say that I was involved – Albawaba.com