Hindi’s interrogation postponed

Maha Al-Azar and
Youssef Diab
Daily Star staff

The Military Tribunal indefinitely postponed Lebanese Forces official Tawfiq Hindi’s interrogation on Tuesday on the grounds that he had yet to be transferred to the tribunal.
Meanwhile, judicial proceedings against Al-Hayat journalist Habib Younes and activist Claude Hajjar are set to pick up on Thursday.
Hindi was scheduled to be interrogated again by Military Investigating Magistrate Abdullah Hajj.
Chief Military Prosecutor Nasri Lahoud charged Hindi last week with “contacting and collaborating with Israel to undermine state authority and disturb relations with a sisterly country,” a reference to Syria.
Hindi, who was an adviser to jailed LF leader Samir Geagea, allegedly had long-standing relations with Israel through his contacts with Odid Zaray, press attache to Uri Lubrani, the former coordinator for Israeli activities in Lebanon.
Lahoud also accused Hindi of discussing with Israeli officials ways to support a potential Lebanese presidential candidate.
Hindi was interrogated by Hajj last week, in the presence of his lawyer Charles Harb.
If Hajj finds sufficient grounds to prosecute Hindi, the case will be referred to the Military Tribunal for trial and sentencing. If convicted of the charges, Hindi could face the death penalty.
Similarly, Younes, who has been charged with eight felonies, including two that carry the death penalty, also faces charges of “contacting the Israeli enemy, spreading disinformation to the benefit of Israel, collaborating (with the enemy) to help them conquer and enter his own country and undermine state authority and prestige, and disturbing Lebanese ties with a sisterly country by disclosing information to the enemy.”
Younes is scheduled to be interrogated again in the presence of journalist Antoine Bassil on Thursday. Bassil, who is the Beirut correspondent for the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation’s television station, also faces the same charges.
One of Younes’ lawyers, Riad Matar, told The Daily Star on Tuesday that he intends to request his client’s release after the scheduled interrogation on Thursday.
“I believe that Habib is a victim and doesn’t deserve to be detained, not even for one minute,” Matar said, adding that all preliminary interrogations are considered “null” because the Judicial Police have no authority to conduct them.
“We’re hoarse from repeating that the Judicial Police have no right to conduct interrogations; only the judge has that right,” he said.
Hajjar, a human rights and environmental activist, may also face prosecution on Thursday, when she appears before Hajj for interrogation on undisclosed charges.
Hajjar was taken into custody for three days last week. She was interrogated in the case against Younes and was subsequently released.
Younes allegedly met with Zaray on April 14, in the presence of Etienne Saqr, the leader of the Guardians of the Cedars party, who left the country last year following Israel’s withdrawal from the South.
Hajjar, who says she has been a friend of the Saqr family for 12 years, visited Saqr in Cyprus on April 14 but denies meeting with any Israelis.