Lebanon military court orders Lebanese-American be released | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Lebanon military court orders Lebanese-American be released

FILE - This July 5, 2016 file photo, shows Amer Fakhoury, owner of Little Lebanon To Go restaurant in Dover, N.H., U.S. On Monday March 16, 2020, Lebanon's official news agency said a military tribunal in Beirut has ordered the release of Fakhoury, a Lebanese-American who has been held in the country for nearly six months on charges of working at Khiam prison for an Israeli-backed militia two decades ago. He was ordered released because more than 10 years had passed since he allegedly tortured prisoners. (John Huff/Foster's Daily Democrat via AP, File)
March 16, 2020 - 12:23 PM

BEIRUT - A military tribunal in Beirut on Monday ordered the release of a Lebanese-American held in the country for nearly six months on charges of working for an Israeli-backed militia two decades ago, Lebanon's state-run news agency said.

Amer Fakhoury was ordered released because more than 10 years had passed since he allegedly tortured prisoners at a jail run by the so-called South Lebanon Army, the National News Agency said.

Fakhoury, 57, is is a former SLA member who became a U.S. citizen last year, and is now a restaurant owner in Dover, New Hampshire. His case has been closely followed in his home state of New Hampshire, where U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and other officials have called for imposing sanctions on Lebanon to pressure Beirut to release him.

Fakhoury has not been attending questioning sessions in Lebanon over the past few months, after being hospitalized with stage 4 lymphoma.

It was not immediately clear if he will be set free, as he's facing another case filed by former prisoners who say they were tortured by him.

Over the weekend, the Fakhoury family placed a sign on their restaurant's door saying they anticipate reopening by early or mid-April, Seacoastonline.com reported.

"We are excited to serve you again!" the sign read. The statement was attributed to Fakhoury and his wife, Micheline.

Fakhoury has been jailed since Sept. 12 after returning to Lebanon on vacation to visit family. Lebanon's intelligence service said he confessed during questioning to being a warden at Khiam Prison, which was run by the SLA during Israel's 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon.

Human rights groups have described the prison as a centre for torture.

Fakhoury's family and lawyer, however, say he had no direct contact with inmates and was never involved in any interrogation or torture.

Lebanon and Israel have been officially at war since Israel’s creation in 1948. Lebanon bans it citizens from travelling to Israel or having contact with Israelis.

His lawyer and family say he fled Lebanon in 2001 through Israel and eventually to the United States because of death threats he and many other SLA members received after Israel ended its occupation of Lebanon in 2000.

In February, Fakhoury was charged by a military investigative judge with the murder and torture of inmates at Khiam Prison.

Hundreds of former Lebanese members of the SLA militia had fled to Israel, fearing reprisals if they remained in Lebanon. Others stayed and faced trial, receiving lenient sentences.

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Associated Press writer Kathy McCormack contributed from Concord, N.H.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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