Lebanese minister of information in court over controversial Houthi comments
DUBAI: Three lawyers took legal action against the Lebanese minister of information on Thursday and wanted him to be tried in a criminal court of inciting disputes and disrupting relations with Arab countries for his “defamatory and fabricated” statements about the Houthis.
Information Secretary George Kordahi sparked diplomatic outrage and a social media turmoil on Tuesday when a video of him surfaced saying the Houthis were defending themselves and calling the Yemen war “absurd”.
Kordahi was asked about his position on the events in Yemen in an interview taped on August 5, before he was appointed Minister of Information. He replied: “In my opinion, this Yemeni war is absurd and should stop.”
Arab News has learned that Lebanese lawyers Mohammad Ziyad Ja’afil, Abdul Aziz Jumaa and Abeer Bannout have filed legal notice with the Attorney General’s office accusing Kordahi of crimes that threaten national unity and the relations of the Lebanon to have damaged the Arab countries.
Referring to his “controversial comments” in their legal notice, the lawyers said Kordahi’s testimony sparked a diplomatic and political crisis because he was a member of the current cabinet in Lebanon, “a country with common interests and historical and close ties.” with Arab Gulf States and in particular Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “
According to the legal notice, the lawyers said: âThe responsible minister is not an ordinary person, but an experienced broadcaster, information minister, representing the head of the Lebanese media and a professional academic and diplomat. His comment was not just a coincidence or a simple reaction as some are trying to spread. “
They said Kordahi’s statements threatened Lebanon’s relations with its Arab counterparts, violated the code of conduct and diplomatic behavior and caused a crisis for his country.
âIt has endangered the interests of citizens and expats, in addition to harming Lebanon’s political and economic interests, which has led to its isolation. He instigated sectarian, religious and racist disputes, âsays the imprint, of which Arab News received a copy.
The lawyers believed that Kordahi’s comments were “baseless, slanderous and fabricated” and believed that they were invented by his imagination.
“His comments have harmed every patriotic citizen who values ââand respects Arab countries that have consistently supported and supported Lebanon,” the statement said.
Ja’afil, Jumaa and Bannout said they filed their legal notice not to prevent anyone from defaming Arab countries, punishing the wrongdoer and setting a future precedent for others not to disregard or defame Arab brothers.
Plaintiffs added that the minister’s remarks and the fact that the Lebanese president and the prime minister’s office distanced themselves from what he said before repeating his testimony and refusing to apologize on Wednesday confirmed that he was a crime committed and against his duties.
“His conduct is charged and punished under the Criminal Code and requires that he be tried, prosecuted and tried in a criminal court rather than the parliamentary special committee that hears presidents and ministers,” the lawyers said.
Jumaa said they filed the legal notice in their capacity as Lebanese citizens who did not want to be influenced or influenced by Kordahi’s statements.
“We disagree with his controversial statements that could bring unwanted suffering and consequences and harm us as citizens and expats living in the Gulf,” Jumaa told Arab News.
When asked what punishment Kordahi could face if charged and tried, the lawyer replied, “If the judiciary is independent without political pressure, he could face between one and three years in prison and / or fined US $ 600. Dollars under Article 194 of the Lebanese Criminal Code. “
When asked if the Cassation Attorney General’s decision on the case was irrevocable, Bannout told Arab News that there was no timeframe for the investigating prosecutor to issue an unappealable decision.
Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to charge Kordahi and refer him to a criminal court or to dismiss the lawsuit.
The Gulf Cooperation Council on Wednesday condemned the minister’s comments, saying they reflected limited knowledge and shallow understanding.
Kordahi, a former television host, has created controversy in the past with his views on topics from Syrian President Bashar Assad to workplace harassment.