December 27, 2005

Lebanon detains Syrian suspect in Tueni’s killing

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon has detained a Syrian suspect in
the killing of anti-Syrian lawmaker and newspaper magnate
Gebran Tueni, judicial sources said on Tuesday.

Military magistrate Rasheed Mizher ordered the arrest of
Abdel-Qadir Abdel-Qadir, a scrap dealer, after questioning him
and two other Syrians who have since been released, the sources
said on condition of anonymity.

The December 12 car bomb killing of Tueni was the third
political murder in Lebanon since the February 14 assassination
of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri plunged the country
into months of turmoil.

Abdel-Qadir was present near the site of Tueni's killing in
a Christian suburb of Beirut and made mobile phone calls before
and after the explosion, which also killed Tueni's driver and
bodyguard, the sources added without elaborating.

An ongoing U.N. investigation has implicated senior Syrian
officials and their Lebanese allies in Hariri's murder, echoing
feelings among many Lebanese who also blame Damascus for the
other political killings.

Syria denies any role but Hariri's assassination sparked
mass protests in Beirut that forced it to bow to world pressure
and withdraw its troops from Lebanon in April after 29 years.

Detlev Mehlis, the outgoing chief of the inquiry, said
earlier this month Hariri's murder was probably linked to other
politically-motivated crimes.

The 48-year old Tueni was a fierce critic of Syria's grip
on Lebanon, publishing his biting editorials on the front-page
of his an-Nahar newspaper, Lebanon's leading daily.