Lebanese judge drops case against Saudi minister for “Lebanon’s supreme interest”

Saudi Minister of State for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan has repeatedly called for confronting Hezbollah.
Saudi Minister of State for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan has repeatedly called for confronting Hezbollah.

BEIRUT — Beirut’s First Investigative Judge Ghassan Oueidat dropped on Monday a case against Saudi Arabia’s Arab Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer Sabhan because it conflicted with Lebanon’s supreme interest, Lebanese media reported

It said Oueidat justified his decision based on the idea that “the tweets made by Minister Sabhan came within the framework of a political opinion imposed on him by his position, and the requirements of the prevailing regional and international politics at that period in time.”

Sabhan, a fierce critic of Hezbollah, made inflammatory statements around the time of prime minister Saad Hariri’s abrupt resignation from Riyadh in November. Hariri later went back on that decision.

Sabhan wrote in his tweets that “Lebanon, after the resignation, will never be as it was before and we will not accept Lebanon being part of a war against Saudi Arabia.”

On a visit to Washington soon after Hariri’s televised resignation, Sabhan, got a withering reception, Western and Arab officials said, from David M. Satterfield, the State Department’s acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs. He demanded that Sabhan explain why Riyadh was destabilizing Lebanon.

Intense diplomacy followed by France, the United States, Egypt and other countries, producing a deal that allowed Hariri to leave Saudi Arabia.

According to Lebanese media reports, Sabhan is no longer in charge of the Lebanese file.

Nabih Awada , who sued  Sabhan is reportedly a veteran Lebanese inmate ,who has served time in Israeli prisons and is close to Hezbollah. He filed the lawsuit on January 31 through his lawyer Hassan Bazzi.

The move could escalate tensions between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, according to Lebanese media.

According to media reports the grounds of the lawsuit against sabhan are his alleged “stoking of strife among Lebanese” and “damaging Lebanon’s relations with a foreign state”, a possible reference to Hezbollah’s backer Iran.

“This lawsuit conflicts with the supreme interest of Lebanon and the interests of the state,” Oueidat said Monday.

He added that his decision to drop the case was also based on the “lack of jurisdiction of courts to assess international relations and disputes.”

According to Lebanese media reports, Sabhan is no longer in charge of the Lebanese file.

(Xinhua)