The green light given to the Military Cassation Court to release Charbel Qazzi, sentenced to seven-year imprisonment for spying for “Israel,” sparked a craze of questions about the why and wherefores of such a decision.
The Court’s verdict is even more appalling as Qazzi, a veteran employee at Alfa mobile phones Company, had confessed during his trial to be guilty as charged. Moreover, what is more perturbing is that this very Court, headed by Judge Alice Shabtini, has hitherto ruled the release of nine other collaborators, while prisons cells abound with detainees who’ve been waiting for years now sentences for minor offenses, way less severe than spying for “Israel,” an “enemy state” with which Lebanon has been technically in a war state since 1948, according to the Lebanese legislation.
“Israelis” at Alfa
Charbel Daher Qazzi, arrested in June 2010 by the Lebanese Army Intelligence, was a maintenance technician at Alfa. He was sentenced to seven-year .
imprisonment by the military court for “collaboration with the enemy and providing it with detailed information on communications both from the (private) Alfa and national landline networks.” Qazzi was an employee at the Telecoms Ministry back in the early 1990s before working for Alfa. Upon his arrest, he was accused of having provided “Israelis” with useful information relevant to the 2006 war. He admitted to judges that he had collaborated with “Israelis” for 14 years and that he had provided them with information allowing them to “destruct Alfa Company,” in his own terms.
Questioned about the meaning of his saying, Qazzi explained: “Owing to the information I gave, the “Israelis” [actually] lived among us at Alfa. They had the possibility to carry out wiretapping and to instill a virus prone to destruct the company.”
The indictment indicates that the spy has provided officers with the full Alfa relays nationwide and subscribers’ passwords. He might as well have installed software and electronic devices facilitating wiretapping and the localization of cell phone users. Some experts avow that thanks to Qazzi, “Israelis” could track telephone data, so as to allow the Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to bring forth an indictment implicating Hizbullah members in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. Qazzi also admitted that he had been to “Israel” many times to meet with officers, receive spying devices, and attend training sessions.
Thus, he was a dangerous man, vis-Ã -vis whom the court had best be firm and reject his release demand, according to the recommendation of the prosecution’s representative. But Alice Shabtini has decided otherwise and granted him freedom on a 10-million-LBP bail.
Being as lenient, the court somehow legitimates national treason. It even gives a valid sign for the active collaborators that their acts do not subject them to serious consequences and that they can serve just a small part of their sentence. There will always be someone to open the door for them to the way out of prison.
Such a systematized release of collaborators indeed raises doubts whether the real goal is to ridicule spying for “Israel” and undermine the culture of the resistance, so that Lebanon catches the wave, in line with the Arab world, of normalizing the relations with “Israel.”
The Military Cassation Court sparked sharp criticism and vehement reactions. The committee of detainees and ex-prisoners in “Israel” demanded that Judge Shabtini, once proposed by President Michel Suleiman to head the Higher Judicial Council, be interrogated. Following an urgent meeting last week, the committee demanded that collaborators’ release decisions espoused by Shabtini be forwarded before the judicial inspection, to determine the relevant reasons and motives. “Such decisions leave collaborators a freehand so that they act without any intimidation,” the committee’s spokesperson said, demanding that convicted spies be stripped of their civil rights.
For once, it would be judicious to emulate Americans, who, back in 1978, have sentenced Jonathan Pollard to life imprisonment for having spied for “Israel.”