Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, the depositor who stormed a federal bank branch in Hamra on Thursday, August 11th, in a desperate attempt to withdraw money from his own account, has just declared a hunger strike following his arrest.
“In a phone call with his lawyer, he threatened to hang himself unless he was released as per the agreement made with him by the authorities,” according to Aljadeed.
The 42-year-old man who had a $210,000 deposit at the Federal Bank of Beirut was able to recuperate $35,000 of it after carrying a shotgun and a gas canister, threatening to kill the customers and staff he was holding, and self-immolate if he could not withdraw his deposit.
It took Hussein a seven-hour standoff to return a part of his deposit, and then he surrendered with a promise that he would only be questioned and then set free.
However, the promises were exceeded and Hussein is still detained at the information division barracks in Ashrafieh awaiting instructions from the Attorney General.
His relatives called for a solidarity stand after his brothers and lawyers were prevented from entering to see him or bring him food, according to Legal Agenda.
The Federal Bank has filed a lawsuit against Hussein and the file will be referred to public prosecution while the bank branch’s employee refused to fill a personal lawsuit against him.
Since the country’s economy collapsed in 2019, banks have imposed informal capital controls, limiting withdrawals of hard currency. Banks stopped giving dollars to depositors, allowing withdrawals only in vastly devalued Lebanese pounds, about 74% lower than the market rate.
The depositors’ union, on the sidelines of Hussein’s situation, has called to make the political, banking, supervising, and judicial authorities hold responsibility for what is happening.
Dina Abou Zour, a lawyer with the Depositors’ Union, predicted that people would continue resorting to desperate measures if the banks and politicians failed to address their demands.