Rifi preparing law to dissolve military court over Samaha controversy/Terrorist Hezbollah Criticizes Rifi


Rifi preparing law to dissolve military court over Samaha controversy
The Daily Star/May. 15, 2015/BEIRUT
Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi Friday said he would submit a draft law to the Cabinet to dissolve the Military Tribunal after a controversial verdict was handed down by the court in the Michel Samaha case. “I am preparing a draft law to annul the military court and I will present it to the Cabinet,” Rifi told reporters following a meeting with human rights organizations. “I support a civilized, non-totalitarian state,” he said. “The sentence handed down to [ex-minister Michel] Samaha was inappropriate [considering] the crime.”The tribunal Wednesday handed Samaha a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence for transporting explosives from Syria to Lebanon with the intent to assassinate political and religious figures. The verdict has drawn widespread criticism, with several March 14 figures believing it was too light of a sentence. Rifi insisted he will carry on with his “struggle to protect humans” and to “build a state that respects institutions.”Footage released Thursday showed conversations between Samaha and ISF informant Milad Kfoury in which the ex-minister discussed how the explosions should target north Lebanon MP Khaled Daher, his brother, Free Syrian Army commanders, and Syrian militant gatherings in north Lebanon. Samaha handed Kfoury $170,000 and several bags of TNT to carry out the operations, according to the footage. Kfoury shot the footage using a hidden camera.

Lebanon justice minister ‘ignorant of laws’: Hezbollah MP
The Daily Star/May. 15, 2015
BEIRUT: A pledge by Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi to take action against the Military Tribunal over its perceived lenient sentencing of Michel Samaha proves he is “ignorant of laws,” a Hezbollah MP said Friday. “Minister Ashraf Rifi’s behavior did not surprise us…, [and] neither did the tense rhetoric he used to comment on the Military Tribunal’s verdict in the case of former minister Michel Samaha,” MP Nawar Sahli said in a statement released by Hezbollah’s media office. “Mr. Rifi has to make up his mind: Is he a justice minister in a national interest government, or is he a commander of street [gangs]?”The comments come following a series of diatribes Rifi launched after the Military Tribunal Wednesday sentenced Samaha to four and a half years in prison over transporting explosives from Syria to Lebanon. Samaha admitted in court that the explosives were meant to be used in assassination plots targeting religious and political figures in Lebanon. He insisted that he was lured into a trap by a police informant. Rifi and other March 14 figures are complaining that the sentence was too lenient. Samaha has been in custody since Augut 2012 and is set for release in December. A judicial year in Lebanon is 9 months long. Rifi called the verdict “scandalous” and referred the Civil Consultant at the Military Tribunal Judge Leila Reaidy to interrogation. He also promised to work on amending the prerogatives and role of the Military Tribunal. On Thursday, Rifi went as far as pledging to submit to the Cabinet a draft law that would dissolve the tribunal completely. Sahli’s remarks came before Rifi announced his intention to submit that law. “Rifi’s words mark an unprecedented assault on the judiciary and on justice… from a person that is supposed to be the guardian of the judiciary and justice,” Sahli said. The MP accused the Future Movement minister of committing an “illegal” act by asking the state prosecutor to challenge the verdict. “This is not permitted by any text in the Lebanese law,” he said. “But we are not shocked by Rifi’s ignorance of law and what it states.”  Referring Reaidy to the judicial inspection team was “a rude intervention in the work of the judiciary, and is in itself a scandal,” Sahli added. He went on to accuse Rifi of violating article 383 of the Lebanese Criminal Code, which outlaws the degredation of civil servants, and calling for him to be punished accordingly. The punishment for degrading a judge is a jail term that ranges between six months and two years. Rifi dismissed the criticism later Friday, telling his opponents they were wasting their breathes.The minister said all the measures he had taken were “in accordance with Lebanese laws” and “at the heart of [his] prerogatives.”