Former Lebanese information minister sentenced to 10 years for plotting attacks

World Friday 08/April/2016 20:51 PM
By: Times News Service
Former Lebanese information minister sentenced to 10 years for plotting attacks

Beirut: A Lebanese military court on Friday increased to nearly 10 years the jail term for a former minister convicted last year of smuggling explosives and planning attacks, in a case that has underscored the country's sharp political divisions.
Former information minister Michel Samaha, who has close ties to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, was detained in August 2012 and confessed to involvement in a plot for which Damascus' security chief Ali Mamluk was also indicted.
Syrian officials have denied Damascus was involved, but the allegations exposed rifts in Lebanon, which often break along sectarian lines, over Syria's long-standing involvement in the country.
Samaha's initial four-year sentence and later release on bail prompted bitter protests from opponents of Assad.
On Friday the court set Samaha's new sentence at 13 years, but in Lebanon a prison year is equivalent to nine months.
"The issuance of the verdict on the terrorist Michel Samaha corrects the former lenient verdict, which we had rejected and declared we would not tolerate," said former prime minister Saad Al Hariri, a leading critic of Damascus.
Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk, a member of Hariri's Future Movement, said the new sentence confirmed "the correctness of our trust in the president and members of the court".
Ashraf Rifi, another politician, had resigned his post as justice minister over his granting of bail in January after describing the trial last year as a travesty of justice.