BEIRUT: Friday marks the first anniversary of the assassination of Lebanese researcher and publisher Lokman Slim, but his family has not yet received any new information regarding the progress of the judicial investigation to discover the circumstances of the crime.
Slim, 58, was shot on February 3, 2021.
His body was found in his car in the village of Aaddousiyyeh in southern Lebanon the day after his family reported losing contact with him as he returned from visiting a friend in the region where Hezbollah has great influence.
Slim, who was known for his outspoken opposition to Hezbollah, had been threatened before his death.
Slogans accusing Slim of treason had been written on the walls of his home in the southern suburbs of Beirut, with slogans glorifying ‘gun silencers’ and phrases such as ‘Hezbollah is the honor of the nation “.
The Lokman Slim Foundation launched a campaign coinciding with the anniversary of his assassination calling for “breaking the silence surrounding political killings and opposing the culture of murder and impunity”.
The main task of the foundation created in Slim’s name is to document “political assassinations in the Middle East and North Africa”.
Activists and analysts say Lebanon’s modern history is full of assassinations and assassination attempts against politicians, journalists, academics, clerics and activists, the perpetrators of which remain unknown.
The latest of these crimes is the explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, which killed 220 people, injured 6,500 others and destroyed part of the capital.
The Beirut port probe is still suspended by a political decision and hampered in particular by Hezbollah.
As no suspects have been arrested for Slim’s assassination, Human Rights Watch, in a statement released Thursday, criticized “flawed investigations into politically sensitive killings”.
He called on donors to review the aid provided to the Internal Security Forces and to justice in Lebanon.
Aya Majzoub, Lebanon researcher at HRW, said: “The unsolved murders and shoddy homicide investigations are a reminder of the dangerous weakness of the rule of law in Lebanon in the face of irresponsible elites and armed groups.
“Security forces and the judiciary, often generously funded and trained by donor countries, have the technical capacity to investigate the killings, but have failed to identify any suspects in these sensitive cases or follow the obvious lines of inquiry.
The cases reviewed by HRW are: Slim, a longtime Hezbollah critic; Joe Bejjani, a telecommunications worker and amateur military photographer shot dead on December 21, 2020; Colonel Mounir bou Rjeily, a retired customs officer found dead at his home on December 2, 2020 after being hit with a sharp object on the head; and Antoine Dagher, head of Byblos Bank’s ethics and anti-fraud department and former head of its compliance unit, who was stabbed to death on June 4, 2020.
On the first anniversary of Slim’s assassination, many officials spoke out against his murder and the failure to hold the killers accountable.
“We will never forget,” former Prime Minister Saad Hariri wrote on Twitter, captioning a photo of Slim.
Former Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi tweeted: “The investigation of the crime is forbidden and the killers are not held accountable.
“In the trustee state, Lebanon’s best are treacherously killed, at the hands of Iran’s tools, but Lebanon remains stronger than them, and justice will prevail sooner or later.”
Lawyers for the National Council to End the Iranian Occupation of Lebanon called on security and judicial authorities to “publish the findings of the investigations to find the killer, who we believe is Hezbollah”.
They added: “The martyr, Comrade Slim, was assassinated in Hezbollah’s area of influence. Either Hezbollah is the killer or they have to provide information to expose the killers. The question remains: does the state fear the truth or does it fear Hezbollah?
In this context, the Lebanon Debate news site published an article about what it considered the “false success” of the ISF’s news arm in recently dismantling 17 Israeli spy rings in Lebanon.
“After Hezbollah arrested an agent who was recruiting people in Lebanon by tricking them into working for an association and getting paid in US dollars, and following extensive investigations, the party believed that the case was too complex and therefore referred her to an officer with whom he was previously cooperating,” the article read.
“This Information Directorate officer then investigated the case further and discovered new leads, which led to the arrest of the members of these spy networks.
“The fact that the Directorate of Information kept its investigations secret and did not release any information about it prompted the party that leaked the information to release the investigations to the media,” Lebanon Debate pointed out.