The humiliating verdict and the reactions to it over the past few days have been extremely enlightening when it comes to the fundamental problems in Lebanon: we’ve forgotten what a democracy means, the irrational political ideologues that will gladly dismiss hard evidence to back their political camp, a severely corrupt and decaying judiciary and most importantly, complete lack of trust in the security apparatus.
1- Military Court Should Vanish, ASAP
It’s the 21st Century. A decade and a half into it actually. However, for some perverted, inexplicable reason, Lebanese civilians get tried in military courts. You don’t need someone to explain to you why this is fundamentally wrong and unacceptable in what is supposed to be a democratic republic. It’s not supposed to be legal to do that, and I don’t mean “legal” in the “for-one-time-only” mockery we make of our laws and constitutions to pass outright rude and despotic “amendments” like extending for this sorry excuse of a parliament. Twice.
The military should have its own internal judiciary system for crimes related to the military and exclusively for its own members. So, a civilian that is charged with a security threat, should be tried in a criminal court, not a military one, simply because HE’S NOT in the military! The laws that apply to civilians and those that apply to enlisted members of the military are vastly different. Asking a military court to rule on a civilian, is admitting we are a security state where the armed forces are in power, not democratically elected (even though not for a while now) officials. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a country ruled by orders you can’t disobey and rights you are expected to forfeit “for the greater good” which is another way of saying that you’re screwed if you aren’t part of the establishment.
And for those of you who think that civilians get tried in military court for serious offenses only, like Michel Samaha’s, and Fayez Karam’s a few years back, you are gravely mistaken. If you video tape ISF darak beating up an unarmed civilian in public, and you say something that shows you’re in disagreement of what they’re doing, you’ll be served papers to go to MILITARY COURT, for taping policemen breaking the law they’re supposed to protect, and would spend A YEAR in jail if the judge feels like it, or your wasta and bank account aren’t good enough.
2- Double Standards from 14 and 8
It really bothers me that someone like justice minister Ashraf Rifi, known for his protection of da3esh supporters far and wide, would get so pissed off about the Samaha scandal. Whether it’s prosecuting taxpayers who chose to burn the da3esh flag, or being in the same political party that includes terrorists as vile and guilty as Samaha, such as Khaled Daher, a known traitor and responsible for financing and orchestrating desertions from the Lebanese Army to terrorist elements like Al Nusra or Da3esh.
March 8, who Samaha hails from, abandoned him when this all went down in a heartbeat. I mean, a water-balloon takes longer to deflate than any support for Samaha when he was arrested and charged a few years back. Aoun’s only issue was “how could the Information Branch arrest him in own bedroom?!” (apparently, bedrooms are off-limits). The more seasoned pro-Assad elements of March 8, Hezbollah and co, shyly suggested that maybe the Information Branch fabricated the evidence (something the hours of tapes and voice recordings revealed later on would later prove that that was not true).
So, the bleak support of Samaha back then, and the fierce defense of the insanely short sentence now, means they know what Samaha did was abhorred, but that they could easily get him off the hook for it in military court.
3- Trust Issues and Transparency
We don’t trust the cops. That’s not news, and you all know it. However, there are some cops who do good, honest police work, which often gets brushed off or dismissed because of the general lack of trust in the whole security apparatus, or because the perpetrators get driven away in limos from their jail cells by their political godfathers.
Obviously, the police needs to be reformed. In reality though, we know that’s kinda farfetched. A quick fix to cases that are high profile, like the Samaha one, would be more transparency. Make the evidence public, let us know what is happening in the court room. That way, it’ll be easier for the average taxpayer to nod their head and be convinced there’s probable cause for an arrest and that no tampering or fabricating of evidence occurred.
That way, public trust will be slowly earned and maybe the good example will be followed by other security agencies. But, when good police work is done, and people can easily dismiss it because of the generally abysmal track record of the ISF, that’s not right, and puts everyone in danger.
What Should Happen
Exhaust appeals for this verdict, which is an insult to Lebanese taxpayers’ intelligence. Ideally, get rid of the military court, or at least reorganize it to remain an internal military affairs court, one that has no jurisdiction over civilians, ever, no matter what. Retry Samaha in a criminal court again, and hand down a sentence that is comparable to the gravity of what Samaha did and was trying to do. I mean, for fuck’s sake, you get in more trouble for having a gram of weed in your car, than 50 kilograms of explosives. Come on, don’t be that obviously biased or irrational.
Samaha shouldn’t be let off the hook this easy. He should face justice. Adding him to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon cases instead of resolving it here, now and effectively, is just political manoeuvring by M14 who have sadly yet to reap the rewards of the STL. Sentence him here, with our own laws.
Food for thought: if Samaha got caught, imagine how many weren’t…