Syrian held over editor's murder


Middle East: Lebanon has detained a Syrian suspect in the killing of anti-Syrian politician and newspaper magnate Gibran Tueni, judicial sources said yesterday.

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.

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

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

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

Syria denies any role, but Mr Hariri's assassination caused 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 head of the inquiry, said earlier this month that Mr Hariri's murder was probably linked to other politically motivated crimes.

The 48-year-old Mr Tueni was a fierce critic of Syria's grip on Lebanon, publishing his biting editorials in his an-Nahar newspaper. - (Reuters)