Several Lebanese leaders condemned the the sentence issued by the military court against former Minister Michel Samaha .
Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt said the verdict in Samaha’s case legalizes assassinations and explosions.
“The court’s verdict in Samaha’s case legalizes assassinations and explosions,” Jumblatt said in a statement.
“The verdict can only be described as a judicial, military, and political scandal that avoids the implementation of the law and justice against those who oversaw the execution of crimes and terrorist bombings,” Jumblatt added.
“This light verdict contradicts all political and legal factors and leads us to addressing the case of the military judiciary … which has exceeded its authorities ,” he continued.
The MP noted that Samaha’s verdict demands that the military tribunal’s jurisdiction in tackling crimes be reconsidered and allow normal courts to play their role.
“The verdict should therefore be reconsidered in order to avoid allowing this incident to pave the way to legalizing terrorism and murder, which would ignite the internal Lebanese scene for the interests of regional axes in a manner that would ensure their survival at the expense of Lebanon’s stability,” Jumblatt remarked.
Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi also condemned the verdict and revealed that he is planning to amend the law of the military court: “We will stay in our fight towards the building of the state against the mini-state.”
Minister Rifi declared on Wednesday following the verdict that it fell short of his expectations.
“I announce to the Lebanese people the death of the Military Court and we will utilize all means to amend the law of military trials,” he said.
Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq also condemned the verdict and said after a cabinet session held at the Grand Serail:
“We will exert efforts to avoid the repetition of such verdicts in future cases and to ensure that all Lebanese are treated equally.”
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea voiced his support for Rifi’s position on the verdict, saying: “It is time to abolish exceptional trial, starting with military ones.”
He added, via Twitter, that there should be a return to civil trials.
Geagea added: “The verdict diminishes the Lebanese people’s trust in the state and in the existence of justice.”
Samaha , who was arrested three years ago for smuggling explosives into Lebanon from Syria was sentenced on Wednesday to four and a half years in prison for forming a group to carry out terrorist attacks.
Samaha was tried by a military court on charges related to a plot allegedly devised with Syria’s security chief, Ali Malmuk. Samaha confessed to the charges last month and gave details of the plans.
He was found guilty of “having tried to carry out terrorist actions and for belonging to an armed group” and was also stripped of his civic and political rights.
Samaha, who is close to the Syrian government, has been in detention since August 2012.
This is what Bashar wants
“This is what Bashar wants,” Lebanese security sources quoted Samaha as saying in August 2012 of Syrian President Bashar Assad, in a video shot by a Lebanese undercover agent for the Internal Security Forces Information Branch.
He was referring to bombing plan that was meant to be carried out in north Lebanon.
The security sources also said that, in the video, Samaha can be seen and heard saying that ( Syrian Director of the National Security Bureau Maj. Gen. Ali ) Mamlouk, had handed him the bombs in addition to $170,000 in cash that was meant to be distributed to the would-be executors of the attacks in Lebanon.
A number of protesters staged a sit-in Thursday outside the Military Court in Beirut to denounce what they called “the farce of a verdict” that was issued Wednesday against Samaha.
“We call for reconsidering the verdict issued against Michel Samaha because such a verdict encourages terrorism and extremism,” a Future Movement youth official said at the rally
Another protester meanwhile called for “amending the jurisdiction of the Military Court to limit it to military personnel.”
“We are against trying civilians before the Military Court,” he added.
The verdict was seen as too soft by many observers and political forces.