Lebanon’s Patriarch calls for firing pro-Hezbollah judge over arrest of Maronite Archbishop

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File photo of Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai in a Sunday sermon.
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The Maronite Church is demanding that Judge Fadi Akiki, who is closely associated with Hezbollah, be brought before the Disciplinary Board of the Judiciary and dismissed from office.

This development comes after Akiki on Thursday defended the controversial detention and interrogation of Archbishop Moussa al-Hage who is the Archbishop of the Archeparchy of Haifa and the Holy Land and Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem and Palestine and Jordan.

“The funds that he was transporting, around $460,000, are not owned by the church but they rather came from collaborators residing in Israel, the majority of whom work for the enemy in the occupied territories,” Akiki said in a Thursday interview with An-Nahar newspaper.

“It is not true that Archbishop al-Hage was detained in Naqoura; he was rather subjected to the search mechanism that is applicable at this border crossing, similarly to all those who cross it, including U.N. officers,” the judge added.

“I respect the church, but there is a law, which is the boycott of Israel law, and it is my duty as a judge to enforce it,” Akiki went on to say.

Informed sources said that what was confiscated was a large quantity of Israeli goods and medicines that was sent to people in need in Lebanon in addition to the sum of money.

The measures against the Archbishop, including the military court summons, have drawn angry reactions from Christian leaders.

As the Archbishop of the Archeparchy of Haifa and the Holy Land and Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem and Palestine and Jordan, al-Hage s, along with other Christian religious figures, is allowed to cross Lebanon’s southern border and enter Israel, unlike regular Lebanese citizens.

But al-Hage was questioned for 12 hours earlier this week upon his return from Israel, the Maronite Church said, before a military court summoned him for further questioning Wednesday.

Al-Hage ignored the military court summons, issued for allegedly violating boycott laws imposed on Israel and involvement in money laundering, an official close to the case said.

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi headed an emergency meeting with other Maronite clerics on Wednesday, including Archbishop Al-Hage.

They condemned his arrest and summons, which they dubbed a “charade”, and called for the case to be “closed immediately.”

“We demand… the confiscated aid be returned to the archbishop so that it can reach its beneficiaries,” they said in a statement.

They also called on State Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat to “ fire the pro- Hezbollah judge ”

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