Lebanese court concludes investigation in Roumieh prison torture

Lebanese court concludes investigation in Roumieh prison torture
The military court in Lebanon convicted 8 Lebanese officers after leaked video showed them torture Islamist detainees in Roumieh Prison, as Interior Minister vows to serve justice.
2 min read
23 June, 2015
Videos circulated last weekend show Lebanese officers beating prisoners (YouTube)
The Lebanese government commissioner at the military court, Sakr Sakr, convicted 5 prisoner officers for "the torture and inhumane treatement of prisoners, as well as defying orders" in the case of Roumieh Prison.

Two other officers were convicted after being accused of witnessing the torture and not informing the authorities. Sakr's ruling has been referred to the military investigative magistrate Riad Abu Ghaida.

The cases of torture in Roumieh were exposed in leaked videos last weekend showing detainees held in Roumieh prison handcuffed behind their back and stripped to their underwear getting beaten while squatting on a flooded floor.

Meanwhile, head of the Lebanese parliamentary human rights committee, MP Michel Moussa, demanded a parliamentary session to be held Wednesday in order to discuss the issue of torture in Lebanese prisons.

Struggling to control Roumieh

Earlier this year, the Interior Minister ordered the clearing of Roumieh's Block B after years of warnings that the overcrowded section served as a meeting point for militants to plot attacks and strengthen their networks. Prisoners in that block were known to call into Lebanese television talk shows using smuggled mobile phones.

Mashnouk said at the time that "a big part" of twin suicide bombings in the northern city of Tripoli in January was directed from Block B. The bombing, which targeted a district predominantly inhabited by followers of the Shia Alawite sect, was claimed by al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, al-Nusra Front. Mashnouk, however, blamed the attack on the extremist Islamic State group (IS).

IS condemnation and street protests

After the videos were released, IS threatened to torture kidnapped Lebanese soldiers as a response to the beating of detained Islamists on the hands of guards at the Roumieh Prison, according to the brother of one of the kidnapped soldiers.

Nizam Mugheit, the brother of kidnapped Lebanese Army adjutant, Ibrahim Mugheit, told Lebanese television station LBC: “We received a clear threat from the Islamic State [group] that the treatment will be reciprocal and revenge will be taken upon kidnapped soldiers in response for the torture of Roumieh prisoners.”

Also, supporters and sympathisers with Islamist prisoners in Lebanon took to the streets Sunday night to protest the torture exposed. In the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, protesters gathered in city centre demanding the resignation of the interior minister and the immediate release of prisoners.