Lebanon’s caretaker information minister and two former telecommunication ministers could face trial on charges of wasting public funds after their cases were referred to a special judicial panel set up to try top officials. In effect, Hezbollah finds scapegoats to appease demonstrators.
The decision by a prosecutor to refer the cases to the Supreme Council for the Trial of Presidents and Ministers, according to judicial sources and state news agency NNA, follows protests fueled mostly by corruption.
The charges are among the first the caretaker government brings against high-level officials since the start of the unrest. Dire economic conditions and anger against a ruling class triggered the unrest. The majority of the Lebanese people see the ruling class as pillagers of state’s resources, which cause the crisis.
NNA and the judicial sources said the officials it referred to the Supreme Council by financial prosecutor Ali Ibrahim were information minister Jamal al-Jarrah (Sunni Muslim) and former telecommunication ministers Nicolas Sehnaoui (Christian) and Boutros Harb (Christian). None of the three is a Shiite Muslim.
Hezbollah finds scapegoats to appease the Lebanese demonstrators. Whether this move succeeds remains to eb seen.
In remarks to NNA, Jarrah called the proceedings “part of a political campaign” to defame him. He said the financial prosecutor had no legal right to refer the case to the council, a move he said requires a two-thirds vote from parliament.
Posting to Twitter, Sehnaoui said:
I am fully prepared to appear before the competent judiciary, confident in there being no impurity in my practice of public affairs in the service of my country.
Harb declined to comment to Reuters until he had further information about the charges.
NNA did not provide further details about the exact nature of the corruption allegations.
The protests that have swept the country brought down Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.
The country has only two mobile service providers, both state owned. Both boasts the highest mobile rates in the region, a common grievance among Lebanese.