Military prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr indicted 21 people, including customs agents and crew members of the Syria-bound Lutfallah II vessel that was seized over the weekend in Lebanese territorial waters near Batroun.
They were charged with “buying and shipping large quantities of weapons, munitions and explosive supplies from Libya to Lebanon . “They were also charged with forming an evil group … with the intention of carrying out terrorist acts by means of these weapons National News Agency reported.
The suspects include 13 Syrians (8 of them detained), four Lebanese (three of them detained), two arrested Egyptians, an Indian and an unidientified Libyan.
Saqr referred the case to Military Magistrate Riad Abu Ghida.
The Lebanese Army intercepted last week a Sierra Lonean-flagged ship named “Lutfallah II” which was reportedly flying an Egyptian flag in Lebanon’s waters . The ship, which originated in Libya intended to dock at Tripoli port in north Lebanon, but was impounded and taken to Beirut port. Its manifesto listed metal and the like, but an investigation revealed the presence of weapons aboard which were deemed to have been bound for Syria.
According to unconfirmed reports the impounded ship carried 300, 000 lbs ( 136 Metric tons) of arms for the Syrian rebels
Syria’s protests started peacefully in March of last year, but a government crackdown spawned violence that has left thousands dead and prompted some military defectors to take up arms against the regime forces. The government has consistently blamed the violence on “armed terrorists.”
The United Nations estimates that at least 9,000 people have died in the conflict while opposition groups put the death toll at more than 11,000.
The Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim Ali accused Qatar and Saudi Arabia of involvement in the Lutfallah II case but Saudi ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri lashed back at the Syrian envoy.
“With all the respect I have for my colleague ambassador Ali Abdul Karim, I am surprised by his hasty statements in which he accused (Gulf) countries without any evidence,” the Saudi ambassador said in a statement.
Asiri noted that Ali’s statement “is part of a policy adopted by the Syrian government in a desperate attempt to divert attention from what the Syrian people are suffering.”