Syria security chief refuses to appear in Lebanon court

A picture obtained from Syria's Al-Watan newspaper shows the Syrian regime's security chief, General Ali Mamluk, in Damscus in 2015
AFP

Beirut (AFP) – Syrian security services chief Ali Mamluk has refused to appear before a military tribunal in Lebanon to face terror-related charges, a court source told AFP Monday.

Mamluk, a member of President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle, was accused in 2013 by Lebanon’s government of “attempting to murder politicians and other citizens, and carrying out terrorist acts”.

The charge is linked to a case that saw Lebanon’s former information minister Michel Samaha sentenced to 13 years in prison after he was caught transporting explosives from Syria for use in attacks in Lebanon.

Samaha admitted early on in his trial that he was plotting the attacks with Mamluk’s help.

Since 2013, Lebanon has had an arrest warrant out for Mamluk, 72, and has been serving subpoenas to Syria in his name, but it was unclear if he was receiving them.

Monday’s hearing marked a rare acknowledgement of an attempted delivery. 

“During a hearing by the military court on Monday, the subpoena returned (from Damascus) without the accused’s signature,” the source told AFP.

“But it included a note saying the accused would only agree to appear in court in front of a commission made up entirely of major generals,” said the court source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Without Mamluk’s signature, the subpoena could not be considered successfully delivered by the court, which set a new hearing for October 29.

Mamluk has rarely travelled outside of Syria — or even appeared publicly — since the conflict in his country erupted in March 2011.

He was appointed as the head of national security in 2012 after a major explosion in Damascus killed four top security officials.

Another legal source told AFP it would be impossible to honour Mamluk’s request to appear before a special military court.

“It would require a special law, and there aren’t seven major generals in Lebanon. Only the heads of security agencies have that title,” the source said.

.