MP Ghazi Zeaiter promised Tuesday to present for verification weapons he had purchased from Switzerland, after his failure to do so last year resulted in the country banning arms provisions to Lebanon.
The former minister said that he has communicated with the Swiss Embassy in Lebanon and would in the coming days arrange for the weapons to be brought to Beirut for verification.
The Swiss Embassy confirmed that it was in contact with the Lebanese government on the matter, but did not comment further.
Zeaiter said the weapons were all on Lebanese territory, distributed among his homes in Beirut, Baalbeck and Hermel.
“This whole fuss was made for no reason,” he said.
Last week, the Swiss Embassy said that of the 40 weapons he purchased from Switzerland for his personal security detail in 2016 while he was public works minister, Zeaiter presented only nine for a postshipment verification in March 2018. The country also announced that it had banned all arms provisions to Lebanon until further notice.
The Swiss Embassy said it had made multiple attempts to verify the presence of the weapons before making the decision.
But Zeaiter has alleged that the Swiss side had refused to check on the weapons even though he contacted them to do so, and that communications eventually ceased.
The minister said he had bought the guns for his personal security detail after extremist militants overran the Lebanese border in 2015 near his residence in Hermel.
The Swiss Embassy has maintained that the transaction was made with the minister in his capacity as a representative of the Lebanese government, and that the government is therefore responsible for the weapons’ whereabouts.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
Copyright © 2021, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.