Lebanese ex-'collaborator' killed after colleague escapes

Lebanese ex-'collaborator' killed after colleague escapes
3 min read
22 March, 2020
Antoine Hayek was accused of torturing detainees as a warden at the notorious Khiam prison run by the pro-Israel South Lebanon Army militia.
Hayek and recent escapee Fakhoury are accused of torturing inmates at the Khiam prison [Getty]
Unknown assailants shot dead a former member of an Israeli-backed Lebanese militia on Sunday, security officials said, just three days after a Lebanese-American man who belonged to the same militia was airlifted out of the country despite a travel ban. 

Two Lebanese security officials speaking on condition of anonymity said Antoine Hayek was killed with several bullets from a pistol equipped with a silencer inside his grocery store in the southern Mieh Mieh, near the port city of Sidon.

Hayek had been a warden at a prison run by the pro-Israel South Lebanon Army militia during Israel's 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon, which ended in 2000, according to Lebanese media.

Amer Fakhoury, a Lebanese-American dual national who stands accused of committing torture and murder while working as a warden at the same SLA-run prison, was dramatically airlifted out of Lebanon to the United States on Thursday.

A Lebanese judge ordered him released last week, saying more than 10 years had passed since his alleged crimes in the Khiam prison. Another judge later appealed that decision.

After the appeal was made, a judge of urgent matters in the southern town of Nabatiyeh issued a ruling preventing Fakhoury from leaving Lebanon for two months, following a request filed by former inmates of Khiam.

US officials confirmed Fakhoury was aboard a US Marine V-22 Osprey seen taking off from the US Embassy compound northeast of Beirut on Thursday despite the travel ban.

Read more: South Lebanon Army: Return of war-time 'collaborator' shines spotlight on brutal legacy of Israel's militia

Fakhoury's case had significantly strained the already troubled ties between the Washington and Beirut.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the powerful Hezbollah militant group, called Fakhoury's release and exit from Lebanon a "blatant violation" of the country's sovereignty and laws.

Lawmakers from New Hampshire, the state where Fakhoury became a US citizen last year, had called for imposing sanctions on Lebanon to pressure Beirut to release him.

Local media outlets reported that Hayek had been close to Fakhoury, known widely as the "Butcher of Khiam".

Hundreds of SLA members fled to Israel, including Fakhoury, fearing reprisals if they remained in Lebanon. Others stayed and faced trial, receiving lenient sentences.

Hayek was one of those who stayed in Lebanon and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

No one claimed responsibility for Hayek's shooting.

Hasan Hijazi, a former inmate at Khiam prison, tweeted Sunday about his experience there. He said Hayek would flog prisoners with a whip and "turn detainees into a punching bag, and beat and kick them".

Human rights groups have described the Khiam prison as a centre for torture.

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