Harb: Confessions were ‘dictated’ by investigators under ‘threat of torture’

Youssef Diab
Daily Star correspondent

A team of lawyers defending two prominent detainees held on charges of collaborating with Israel said Wednesday their clients denied making confessions attributed to them, saying they were “dictated” by investigators.
The head of the legal team, Batroun MP Butros Harb, issued a statement saying that Tawfiq Hindi, an adviser to jailed Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, and Al-Hayat journalist Habib Younes were forced to sign testimonies “without seeing or checking the contents.”
They did so to “avoid torture and material or moral pressure to which they were subjected,” the statement said.
“This renders the investigations completely null, especially since the detainees have notified the military investigating magistrate of what they were exposed to and denied all that was attributed to them during the first interrogation.”
The statement said the team of lawyers had separate meetings with Hindi and Younes, as well as with Free Patriotic Movement activist Antoine Khoury Harb at Roumieh Prison.
The three detainees recounted to the attorneys the phases of their incarceration and the “inhumane and illegal methods they were exposed to during interrogations at the Defense Ministry,” it added.
State Prosecutor Adnan Addoum will be briefed Thursday by Military Investigating Magistrate Abdullah Hajj on developments of investigations of those accused of collaborating with Israel.
These include Antoine Bassil, who worked with the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation’s television station.
Hajj is also due to simultaneously interrogate Younes and Bassil on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Addoum received a letter from director-general of State Security, Major General Edward Mansour, requesting an investigation into a report released by Cedar Watch International, a US-based Christian-Lebanese human rights group.
The report claimed that attacks on student protesters outside the Justice Palace on Aug. 9 were carried out by state security personnel under Mansour’s orders. It also described the state security agency as a “militia.”
Addoum referred Mansour’s letter to the Military Prosecutor’s Office for investigation.
l Imprisoned Free Patriotic Movement activist Tony Orien is still hospitalized and being fed intravenously at Dahr al-Basheq public hospital in Roumieh, where he has been since Monday night.
His mother Layla was not allowed to visit him on Wednesday. She said she waved to him from a distance and realized that “one of his hands was handcuffed to the bed.
“I knew that the security guards received a memo on Wednesday banning all visitors,” she told The Daily Star.
Orien, 25, began a hunger strike last Thursday. He is serving a six-week sentence for distributing flyers criticizing President Emile Lahoud and Syria.