Reporters Without Borders

After three years, still no significant progress in Samir Kassir murder investigation

After three years, still no significant progress in Samir Kassir murder investigation

Published on Friday 30 May 2008.
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No suspect has been detained or charged in the three years since Franco-Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir’s murder on 2 June 2005 in Beirut. “We understand that justice must take its course and that the case is being affected by political developments in Lebanon, but it is nonetheless disturbing that Kassir’s murderers are still free,” Reporters Without Borders says.

On the eve of the third anniversary of Franco-Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir’s murder on 2 June 2005 in Beirut, Reporters Without Borders and the Kassir family continue to be concerned about the slowness of both the French and Lebanese judicial authorities in this case, in which no suspect has been detained or charged.

Kassir’s widow, Giselle Khoury, has shared her concern about the lack of progress with Reporters Without Borders. “Resolution seems to me to be very far away, too far,” she said. “The many political changes, not only in Lebanon but also throughout the region, are able to destabilise the investigation. That is why I count above all on the parallel judicial proceedings being conducted in France.”

The day after Kassir’s murder, the Kassir family asked the French authorities to carry out their own investigation.

Reporters Without Borders said: “We understand that justice must take its course and that the case is being affected by political developments in Lebanon, but it is nonetheless disturbing that Kassir’s murderers are still free three years later. Lebanese journalists will not be able to feel really safe in their country as long as this unacceptable impunity lasts.”

Khoury’s lawyer, William Bourdon, said the French judge in charge of the case was doing “everything possible for his investigation to move ahead quickly.”

The mandate of the United Nations commission of enquiry into former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s assassination has meanwhile been extended until 15 December. The commission is supposed to assist the investigations into the score of other political murders in Lebanon since 2004, including Kassir’s, and could facilitate the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, created in 2007, when hearings start in the Hague.

Daniel Bellemare, the head of the commission and the tribunal’s future prosecutor, said in his latest report that the Hariri assassination could have been carried out by a “criminal network” of individuals involved in other bombings in Lebanon. Various similarities have been noted, including in the modus operandi and the kind of victim.

Kassir was killed when a bomb planted in his car exploded on the morning of 2 June 2005 outside his home in the neighbourhood of Achrafieh in East Beirut. A writer and historian, he was a columnist for the daily An-Nahar and a professor of political sciences at Beirut’s St. Joseph university.

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