Lebanon issues death sentences in 1982 killing of president Bashir Gemayel

Bashir Gemayel
Bashir Gemayel

A court in Lebanon sentenced in absentia on Friday two Lebanese citizens to death over the 1982 assassination of President-elect Bashir Gemayel, a move praised by his family and supporters, judicial officials said.

More than three decades after Gemayel was killed in a powerful explosion in Beirut, the case still sharply divides Lebanese — some see him as a national hero while others say he was an Israeli agent. The assassination came at the height of the country’s 15-year civil war and Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.

According to judicial officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, Habib Tanious Shartouni and Nabil Faraj al-Alam, both members of the pro-Syrian Syrian Social Nationalist Party, were sentenced to death.

Gemayel was killed along with and 23 supporters at the right-wing Christian Phalange Party headquarters in the east Beirut neighborhood of Ashrafiyeh on Sept. 14, 1982, barely two weeks before he was due to take office.
Habib al-Shartouni
Habib al-Shartouni

Gemayel, 34 at the time, was allied with Israel. His death prompted the Israeli army to storm and occupy Muslim west Beirut and Gemayel’s right-wing Phalange militiamen to break into the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila on the outskirts of Beirut, killing hundreds of unarmed Palestinian refugees and Lebanese Muslims.

“Today, Bashir and the September 14 martyrs, regained some of their rights because the loss of Bashir and his comrades cannot be compensated,” Gemayel’s wife, Solange, told reporters outside the courthouse shortly after the verdict was read.

Wide celebrations were underway by Gemayel’s supporters in Ashrafiyeh’s main square, near the site of the bombing.

Near the courthouse, SSNP supporters protested the verdict, saying that Shartouni, one of the two sentenced to death, should be honored for fighting “Israel’s project in Lebanon.”

Days after Gemayel was assassinated, Shartouni was detained and held until 1990, when he was set free after the Syrian military moved into Lebanon’s Christian heartland and removed then-prime minister Michel Aoun from areas he controlled in east Beirut. Aoun is today the Lebanese president.

Shartouni has been at large since  Oct. 16, 1990. Though his whereabouts remain unknown, some local media have quoted him in interviews as saying he killed Gemayel and that at some point he lived in Syria. An interview with him was published on Thursday in the daily Al-Akhbar in which he is quoted as saying he does not regret his act.

Al-Alam — who allegedly instigated Shartouni to carry out the bombing — is believed to have died in Latin America in 2014 but Lebanese authorities have tried him in absentia, saying they have no evidence he is dead.

After Lebanon’s civil war ended in 1990, a general amnesty was issued for all crimes except for those that were referred to the Supreme Judicial Council, which handles political and state security crimes.

Associated Press

  • master09

    I would rather have peace for my people even if it was with the enemy.

    • Sex & Chocolate

      it sounds to me that you love your people enough to say that, enemies come from neighbors, friends even family. the best thing you can offer someone you love is peace, unfortunately there are some that love and spread violence and worse there are people sitting in their comfy chairs abroad that wish for more war and violence when they are not the ones in harms way, peace versus war, something civilians should have a say so in but they don’t make the decisions or hardly given a platform to tell about their horrific quality of life as a result of lack of peace.

    • יוסף בן-ישראל

      Technically, we always make peace with the enemy, or we destroy it.

  • Y K

    Death sentences in absentia are universally sops thrown to (parts of) the public to imitate justice and to obfuscate its glaring absence.

  • Danny Farah

    I don’t understand the logic of SSNP protesting this ruling.. First not only Bashir was killed but many other innocent people who lived in the building. Second they didn’t mind it when the Syrian Army was bombarding the living hell out of Lebanon and sucking the blood of the economy. Bashir was no angel but neither was Jumblatt, Franjieh, Nasrallah, Berri and the list goes on. But they don’t seem to target these guys at all. At the early stage of the Civil war the SSNP assassinated the finance minister all the reason was that he was a Capitalist. The honorable minister never hurt a soul in his life. SSNP are nothing but bunch of group of losers who seek attention by sowing chaos and destruction. After all if Bashir was truly an Israeli Agent, wouldn’t you think that the Mossad would have warned him about the assassination? He refused to be one and all he wanted to bring control in Lebanon. I am sure in time he would seek peace with Israel but only after the whole situations would have stabilized. in the meantime the ASNP(Assassination Part) have nothing to offer. The greater Syria . Tizz and thousand tizz because it’s meaningless when you have so many warring parties in the middle east.
    SSNP who are hailed by Hezbollah as heros are nothing but bunch of criminals flocking together and doing nothing to help Lebanon but only seek control for the greater role of Iran in the Middle East. And I hope and pray the murders of Bashir, Harriri and many that were killed with them and after them be hanged. I hope Hezbollah will learn their lessons soon after the next israeli Hezbollah war and divert their attention toward peaceful resolutions in Lebanon. Peace and Long Live Lebanon.

    • Rascal

      It is certainly looking like another war with Hezb/Iran is inevitable. Iran is just waiting till they have a stable base in Syria. Hopefully that will not happen, because the outcome of more Iranians in Syria is assured war.
      But why wait, lets get this party started now before Iran can build more bases.

  • LEBANON101

    Isn’t it ironic that SSNP supporters support the assassination because it stopped israel’s project in Lebanon. You would think by this they care for Lebanon and Palestine. In reality they are not even loyal to Lebanon or care for Palestine. they want both to be part of greater Syria. Ironic bunch of morons they are

    • יוסף בן-ישראל

      Israel had no project in Lebanon but to support the Christians in the south and stop the destruction of Lebanon by the OLP by using it as a basis against Israel. Sadly we didn’t succeed and Hezbollah took the high hand on Lebanon. Our mistake.