Beirut Court Tries 24 More 'Collaborators' with Israel

Published June 8th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Twenty-four Lebanese appeared before the Beirut military court Wednesday for trial on charges of collaborating with Israel, court sources in Beirut said. 

The verdicts were due to be announced the same evening, they added. 

The trials of another 44 were postponed to enable the accused to find a lawyer, or for their cases to be examined in greater detail. 

The accused face charges of having joined Israel's proxy South Lebanon Army, (SLA), of "making contact with the Israeli enemy" or entering Israel. 

Three of them are also accused of having "passed on information to the enemy," court sources said. 

The accused are among 1,700 people, many of them former SLA members, who handed themselves over to the authorities after Israel withdrew its forces on May 24th after 22 years of occupation of southern Lebanon. 

The military court is holding group trials three times a week. 

They started Monday, when the court imposed jail sentences of up to five years on 100 detainees. Most received lesser terms of between 12 and 18 months. 

Four minors who had been recruited by the SLA were referred to a juvenile court. 

The trials have aroused controversy in Lebanon, with opinions divided between those who, like the Hizbullah movement, which spearheaded the anti-Israeli resistance, are demanding stiffer penalties, and others, like the Maronite Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, the spiritual head of the largest Christian community in Lebanon, are calling for mercy. 

The leader of the National Liberal Party, Dory Chamoun, has even called for a general amnesty for SLA members, under threat of demanding that the files of all those amnestied at the end of Lebanon's 1975-80 civil war be reopened - BEIRUT (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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