Lebanon acquits 'Butcher of Khiam' Amer Fakhoury, US citizen

Butcher of Khiam: Lebanon acquits 'Israeli collaborator' Amer Fakhoury, an American national, after US pressure
2 min read
16 March, 2020
Former pro-Israeli militia member Amer Fakhoury was accused of murder, attempted murder and torture.
Fakhoury was arrested after returning to Lebanon last year [AFP]
A Lebanese military court on Monday acquitted Amer Fakhoury, the former head of an Israel-linked prison, of all charges against him, including murder, The Daily Star reported.

Fakhoury was accused of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and torture while presiding over the Khiam prison, a notorious detention centre run by the South Lebanon Army (SLA) during Israel's occupation of Lebanon.

Known as the "Butcher of Khiam", he was detained in September last year after he returned to Lebanon from the United States. Fakhoury is also an American citizen.

Between 1985 and 2000, more than 5,000 people passed through Khiam prison's doors, many of them opponents of the 18-year-long Israeli occupation. At least 10 died as a result of the brutal torture they underwent there.

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

The 144 people who remained incarcerated in Khiam were released when local residents stormed the facility following Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000.

But Fakhoury's lawyers earlier this year denied the charges, saying that he had never been involved in the torture or interrogation of prisoners in Khiam.

His family added that he is being treated for "life-threatening" stage 4 cancer. 

Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar reported Fakhoury was acquitted due to the length of time that has passed since his alleged crimes.

The statute of limitations for torture in Lebanon is three to 10 years after the victim is released from detention but up 25 years for murder. 

Fakhoury's family has said he worked at the prison from 1989 to 1996.

According to Al-Manar, the military tribunal based its decision to acquit him on a 10-year statute of limitations beginning in 1998.

The acquittal reportedly comes amid pressure from American officials over the former pro-Israel militia member's detention.

There is also speculation Fakhoury's trial was expedited to allow for his deportation to the US ahead of the closure of Beirut's Rafic Hariri airport on Wednesday this week.

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