Slamming U.S. Pressure
BEIRUT (Dispatches) – A Beirut tribunal has dropped charges against a Zionist collaborator accused of overseeing the torture and killing of captives at a prison facility in southern Lebanon some two decades ago, in a verdict that the Hezbollah resistance movement and rights activists say was issued under pressure from the U.S.
Amer Fakhoury — a dual Lebanese-American national — was accused of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and torture while presiding over Khiam Prison run by the Israeli-sponsored South Lebanon Army (SLA) militia group — formed by army defectors — during the regime’s 1982-2000 occupation of southern Lebanon.
Widely known as the ‘Butcher of Khiam,’ he fled Lebanon along with hundreds of other SLA members after the Lebanese army, backed by Hezbollah, drove the Zionist regime out of the country in 2000.
Following southern Lebanon’s liberation, the prison camp was preserved in the condition it had been abandoned by SLA militiamen and converted into a museum by the Lebanese government.
Fakhoury settled in the U.S. state of New Hampshire, but was arrested last September when he returned to Lebanon on vacation to visit his family.
On Monday, the Beirut court ordered his release, saying more than 10 years had passed since the defendant allegedly kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured the Lebanese held at the prison camp, the official National News Agency of Lebanon reported.
Lebanon’s intelligence service said Fakhoury had confessed during questioning to being a warden at Khiam Prison.
Hezbollah condemned the ruling as a "miserable step for justice” and said the court had turned a blind eye to the crimes he had committed.
The movement added that the U.S. had exerted pressure on the Lebanese government since Fakhoury was taken into custody.
"It seems that the U.S. pressures have unfortunately paid off as the military tribunal has unexpectedly taken this wrong decision” while ignoring all the pain and wounds suffered by the victims, the statement added.
"This is a sad day for Lebanon and justice,” said the movement, stressing that staff members of the military tribunal should have chosen to step down instead of submitting to American pressure.
"It was more honorable and more effective for the head and members of the military court to submit their resignations rather than to yield to the pressures that forced them to take this sinister decision,” it said.
Hezbollah further urged the Lebanese judiciary to review its wrong decision "for the sake of the rights of the Lebanese, the tortured and oppressed, as well as everyone who sacrificed for the sake of his homeland and the liberation of his land.”