Family and friends of assassinated Lebanese newspaperman and MP Gebran Tueini urged the authorities this week to launch an official investigation into the murder.
"We want an investigative magistrate to be appointed as soon as possible,” said MP and lawyer Butros Harb, an associate of Tueini. “It can't go on like this."
Tueini, editor-in-chief of prominent independent daily Al-Nahar and vocal anti-Syrian rights advocate, was killed on 12 December 2005 in the capital, Beirut.
An initial military investigation into the murder led to the arrest of a Syrian national in late December. The suspect has yet to be charged, however, as no magistrate has been appointed to the case.
"The investigation is frozen because the military magistrate has to pass the case on to the judiciary to continue investigating and judge the case," explained Harb. "The problem is that magistrates' appointments are made by the Supreme Judicial Council, which is currently paralyzed."
The supreme council consists of eleven judges appointed by the president, in consultation with leaders of the country’s many sects. Shortly before Tueini's death, however, several judges reached retirement age.
Until now, consensus has yet to be reached on their replacement.
"The leaders are not agreeing on names," said a source at the justice ministry, which holds official authority over the council. "But I can assert that a decision will be taken very soon.”
Tueini's widow, Siham Tueini, addressed hundreds of students at Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square on 23 January to mark the passing of 40 days since her husband’s death.
"I wish to know why. Why this neglect and why so late?” she said. “What have they been doing for the past 40 days?" she asked, in reference to the judicial authorities.
The assassination of Tueini was the fourth political killing to be blamed on Syria by Lebanese politicians and activists. Damascus has denied the charges.
A spate of car bombs and assassinations began with the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on 14 February, followed by anti-Syrian journalist and intellectual Samir Kassir and former Secretary-General of the Communist Party Georges Hawi.
An independent UN inquiry is currently investigating the Hariri murder.
Syrian troops entered Lebanon in 1976, one year after the beginning of the Civil War, which lasted until 1990. Damascus enjoyed de facto rule over the country until last April, when it withdrew its troops and intelligence apparatus under international pressure.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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