Syria denounces killing of critic in Lebanon blast
A former Communist Party chief who was a harsh critic of Syrian meddling in Lebanese affairs was killed by a bomb as he rode in his car Tuesday, police said, the second slaying of an anti-Syrian figure this month.
The explosion that killed George Hawi came a day after Lebanon concluded parliamentary elections in which the anti-Syrian opposition won a majority in parliament.
Hawi's Mercedes was cracked and buckled from the explosion. His face was visible and recognizable as his bloodied body was taken out of the car on a stretcher and placed in an ambulance. He was 65.
Police said the explosion went off as the car was moving. The Future-TV network said the blast was set off by remote control just as Hawi started his Mercedes-Benz rolling onward. He died instantaneously behind the steering wheel.
Hawi's driver, who was sitting next him on the front seat, was seen leaping out of the car window with serious injuries. He was rushed to hospital. So was another passerby, Nahar reported.
Hawi, a Christian, frequently spoke out against Syrian intelligence and interference in Lebanese affairs.
"We are stunned," Prime Minister Najib Mikati said. He blamed "conspirators" against Lebanon, saying that every time the country moves a step forward some attempt is made to destabilize it.
Hawi was the third Lebanese figure to be assassinated in Beirut. The first was ex-Premier Rafik Hariri along with his economic advisor Bassel Fleihan on Feb. 14 and the An Nahar journalist Samir Kassir June 2.
Later in the day, Syria strongly denounced the assassination of George Hawi. Minister of Information Dr. Mahdi Dakhlallah said in a statement that Syria feels pain over the condemned bombings and assassinations against Lebanon’s figures, security, stressing that the country’s enemies stand behind these crimes, SANA news agency reported.
The Syrian minister expressed deep condolences to the relatives of the deceased George Hawi and to the Lebanese people and national movement, pointing out to the fraternal and historical relations which bound Syria and the late Hawi, the man who resisted Israeli occupation and struggled for the national unity of his country.
Dr. Dakhlallah also pointed out that the late Hawi was a man of dialogue who maintained fraternal relations with Syria.
According to the agency, the minister reiterated Syria’s relentless keenness on Lebanon’s civic peace, stability and security and its call for everybody to let the Lebanese people run their own affairs in the way they consider suitable for them away from all foreign intervention.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)