According to a judicial source, Beirut State Prosecutor for Appeals Judge Ziad Abu Haidar charged eight high-ranking military officers on Wednesday with illicit enrichment, including former Army Commander General Jean Kahwaji and former Army Intelligence Director Edmond Fadel.
The officers were formally accused of “committing the crime of illicit enrichment and exploiting their official positions to ensure vast financial fortunes and sums, by using their influence and accepting bribes,” said a source of Al-Jazeera on Wednesday.
The sources are said to have spoken to the news agency on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter publicly.
The high-ranking officers are also accused of “bringing officers into the Lebanese army in exchange for large sums of money and providing services to influential people in return for personal benefits”, the source said.
The five others charged are the former head of Kahwaji’s office, Mohammad Jaafar al-Husseini, the former head of army intelligence in Beirut, George Khamis, the former head of army Intelligence in North Lebanon, Amer al-Hosn, retired Brigadier General Abdel-Rahman Shhaytli, and a former officer in Lebanon’s General Security agency, Ahmad al-Jamal.
Former armed forces Commander General Jean Kahwaji held his post from 2008 till 2017, and ex-intelligence chief Edmond Fadel was in office from 2008 till 2016.
The Military Court’s Government Commissioner Judge Fadi Akiki had launched the investigation initially after multiple reports in the media surfaced on the wealth of some officers, with politicians also revealing additional information focusing on properties, companies, and funds of the men in question.
Technically, the charges are based on preliminary investigations by Lebanon’s public prosecution office, which decided it had enough evidence to file public charges, the judicial source said.
After receiving the information on properties and companies, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh refused to provide Judge Akiki with information on the bank accounts of these officers.
Apparently, judge Akiki did not have the jurisdiction to receive that type of information, according to the state-run National News Agency.
The file was then transferred to State Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat, in accordance with the new illicit enrichment law, which means that the former security officers will be investigated and tried in civilian courts rather than the Military Tribunal that is the usual avenue for cases involving security forces.
The judicial source explained that this is the first time the illicit enrichment law has been applied to military officers.
Currently, Beirut Judge Ziad Abu Haidar filed the charges and transferred the case to Beirut Investigative Judge Charbel Abu Samra, who is tasked with setting a date for interrogating the former officers.