EXTERNAL AI Index: MDE 18/15/97
16 May 1997
Further information on UA 300/96 (MDE 18/06/96, 23 December 1996) and follow-ups
(MDE 18/07/96, 30 December, MDE 18/08/96, 31 December, MDE 18/01/97, 7 January
1997) - Fear of Torture/Legal Concern and new concern: Fear of unfair trial
LEBANONPierre ‘Attallah, aged 34
On 14 May 1997, a military magistrate demanded between three and 15 years’
imprisonment with hard labour for journalist Pierre ‘Attallah. No date has
been set for the trial but it is thought to be imminent.
Pierre Attallah was arrested on 23 December 1996 and was released on bail on
6 January 1997.
Amnesty International is concerned that Pierre ‘Attallah is reportedly being
charged with contacting Israeli agents in Lebanon, (a charge frequently used
by the Lebanese authorities against people suspected of political opposition).
This relates to a published interview he conducted with Etienne Saqr, former
head of the Guardians of the Cedar, in 1993, in his professional capacity as
a journalist (see previous update). The indictment reportedly states that Pierre
‘Attallah "published Saqr’s ideas [such as] his opposition to the Lebanese
government, to the Syrian presence in Lebanon and to Hizbullah". If Pierre
‘Attallah is convicted on this charge Amnesty International would consider
him a prisoner of conscience.
The organization is also concerned that Pierre ‘Attallah will be tried before
a military court which, by virtue of its procedures and lack of adequate judicial
supervision as recently confirmed by the UN Human Rights Committee, does not
guarantee that defendants receive fair trials.
Magistrate Riyad Talee’ also reportedly charged Pierre ‘Attallah with
"distributing leaflets that incite strife, disturb Lebanon’s relations with
a friendly country [reference to Syria] and slander the army." Pierre ‘Attallah
denied this charge.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/
airmail letters in Arabic, French, English or in your own language:
- calling for the charges against Pierre ‘Attallah that relate to his
professional work as a journalist be dropped;
- expressing concern that Pierre ‘Attallah is being tried before a military
court without adequate safeguards for fair trial;
- requesting assurances that Pierre ‘Attallah will receive a fair and prompt
trial if he is charged with a recognizable criminal offence.
His Excellency President Elias Hirawi
Office of the President
Republic of Lebanon
Fax: +961 1 425 393
Telegrams: President Hirawi, Beirut, Lebanon
Salutation: Your Excellency