Sunday, January 17, 2016

Michel Samaha, former Minister of Information and Tourism of Lebanon, released on bail

January 16, 2016.  Lebanon’s daily l'ORIENT DU JOUR reports on the provisional decision to release on bail Michel Samaha, the country's former Minister of Information and Tourism.  He faces strict bail conditions including a prohibition to make any public pronouncement and to be active in social media. He also had to post a surety equivalent to US$100,000. His release from custody has created a firestorm of protest in the country.

Michel Samaha was known to be a close friend of the Syrian government and an adviser to President Bashar al-Assad. He was placed under arrest in August 2012 over allegations that he and Ali Mamluk, the head of the Syrian security services, had transported explosives from Damascus to the north of Lebanon and had planned attacks and assassinations of political and religious figures in Lebanon. 

Samaha's trial by a military tribunal was often postponed because, inter alia , of the absence of Mamluk. Eventually,  the court  separated the cases and Samaha was tried separately for the smuggling explosives. He was condemned on May 13, 2015 by a military tribunal to four and half years in jail. He served his sentence in Rihaniyé, Lebanon. 

The sentence remains under appeal.  Samaha is expected back into court on January 21, 2016.

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