Mohammed Zaatari – The Daily Star
Hundreds of people gathered in the derelict courtyard of the former Israel-linked Khiam prison in South Lebanon Sunday, in protest against the return of its former commander to Lebanon – some calling for his execution. “I spent months in solitary confinement here, I was tortured, they hung me on electricity poles and they whipped me,” former prisoner Habib Qateish told The Daily Star.
Amer al-Fakhoury, the senior member of the Israel-backed South Lebanon Army who oversaw the prison, is set to appear before the Military Tribunal this week, having been arrested Thursday, a judicial source told The Daily Star Sunday.
More than 5,000 people were held in the Khiam detention center under his command between 1985 and 2000. Many suffered severe torture, including electrocution, and at least 10 people were killed.
The 144 people who remained in the prison when Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000 were freed when the site was stormed by Khiam residents.
“The Lebanese state must sentence this traitor to death,” said Sanaa Ali Ahmad, who was imprisoned in Khiam between 1989 and 1991 on charges of supporting the resistance against Israel.
The crowd was made up of former prisoners, families of those who had been killed, and activists from Hezbollah, the Amal Movement and the Lebanese Communist Party, who waved party flags in the courtyard of the former prison. Many trod pictures of Fakhoury and the Israeli flag into the ground.
Suhaila Awada carried a photo of her son, Haidar al-Ghoul, who died shortly after his release from an eight-year prison sentence, during which he was brutally tortured.
“The spy Fakhoury was totally deprived of humanity, the Lebanese state should put him in the solitary confinement cells where he tortured our sons,” she said.
Rola Hamze was never able to lay to rest her father, Ali, after he was killed under torture. His body disappeared and was never found.
“Amer al-Fakhoury knows where his body is,” Hamze said.
Fakhoury’s arrival to Lebanon over a week ago sparked outrage across the country, as he was able to leave Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport without arrest, despite having been sentenced to 15 years in jail and having several arrest warrants against him.
A judicial source had told The Daily Star that the sentence and warrants had been rendered invalid by “the passage of more than 20 years.”
Fakhoury left Lebanon for Israel in 2000, before moving to the U.S.
In the first public response from Hezbollah, lawmaker Ibrahim Mousawi Saturday condemned the ease with which Fakhoury entered the country, tweeting that “the crimes of high treason do not become obsolete over time.” He called for the court to ensure Fakhoury was brought to justice “to protect Lebanon, preserve the blood of the martyrs and … even national dignity.”
Nimer Bazzi’s son Asaad was also tortured to death between 1986 and 1989. “If the Lebanese state doesn’t want to avenge us of this criminal, then we will do it ourselves,” he said ٍSunday.
Fakhoury’s case, in which he is accused of working with Israel, obtaining Israeli nationality and causing the deaths of Lebanese citizens, is now being handled by acting Military Investigative Judge Najat Abu Shakra.
According to a statement published by Lebanese General Security Friday, Fakhoury confessed to these crimes during interrogations.
Also Friday, the man who accompanied Fakhoury through the airport upon his arrival in Lebanon, a brigadier general in the Lebanese Army, was arrested and is being investigated by the Army’s intelligence branch.