Lebanese Artist Resurrects Geagea’s Criminal Record

Elefteriades went further. He said, “Samir Geagea’s behavior confirms that he is a threat to civil peace in Lebanon. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)
Published Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Over a month ago, during a radio interview, Lebanese music producer Michel Elefteriades called Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea a “criminal” in a discussion on the Lebanese civil war. Geagea promptly filed a lawsuit against Elefteriades for libel and defamation.

So far, so good. A public lawsuit before the courts means confidence in the legal system and a belief that justice should take its course. Elefteriades grabbed the opportunity and ran with it, seeing his chance to open the gates of hell. Geagea will not like it one bit.“Samir Geagea was deemed a criminal by a court of law, which sentenced him to prison. He would not be free today if it were not for the famous amnesty law. But amnesty does not mean innocence. He is doubtlessly a criminal,” said Elefteriades last Friday, September 27, in a press conference.Elefteriades, who proclaimed himself emperor of “Nowheristan” – a nation of the mind that transcends geographical boundaries – said, “[Geagea] claims that the previous court ruling was politicized because of Syrian tutelage of Lebanon at the time. He denies killing former Lebanese prime minister Rashid Karami and other charges against him. Fine, but what about his crimes against the Lebanese army in causing the death of about 500 officers and soldiers? He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones.”The controversy re-opened an old debate on the meaning of the “general amnesty” that Geagea benefited from. There is a legal opinion asserting that amnesty cancels the punishment, not the crime. In other words, amnesty comes to prove that the crime did occur in actuality, but only the punishment is removed.

There are two kinds of amnesty: general amnesty and individual pardons. The Lebanese constitution limits powers to grant a special pardon to the president of the republic, whereas a general amnesty requires a law from parliament. Geagea was not granted a special pardon but a general amnesty that applied to many others. This means a special pardon was dressed in the cloak of a general amnesty, which is considered a violation of the constitution by some legal experts.

This discussion took place among the audience at the Beirut Music Hall where Elefteriades held his press conference. Some argued that amnesty “harmed Geagea more than it benefited him because it affirmed his crime even though it annulled his sentence.”

Anis Gergi, an elderly man, attended the press conference to express his support for Elefteriades. Gergi’s son was an officer in the Lebanese army who was “killed by Samir Geagea,” as he announced in a loud voice. A young man by the name of Hadi Maalouf also spoke. He said his father, an officer in the Lebanese army named Paul Maalouf, was “also killed by Geagea.”

It was a bizarre scene. A few hours after the press conference, the Lebanese Forces responded to Elefteriades with sarcasm. It issued a statement describing Elefteriades as “famous for his political naivete…” The statement continued, “The Lebanese Forces, its leader, and all its activists were tried by a criminal regime whose sins and crimes against Lebanon…pseudo-intellectuals try to gloss over.”
However, the era that Geagea hates so much is over now. Today, he is freely exercising his right to file a complaint before the courts. This is an implicit admission that the legal system is not subject to Syrian tutelage. “Why, then, does he not request a retrial?” wondered Elefteriades.

Elefteriades went further. He said, “Samir Geagea’s behavior confirms that he is a threat to civil peace in Lebanon. He cannot file a suit against us when he committed these crimes…I believe that the courts need to reconsider the decision to grant him amnesty.”

Follow Mohamed Nazzal on Twitter.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

%d bloggers like this: