LEBANON: DEATH SENTENCE ORDERED AGAINST 26 SUSPECTS LINKED TO ESTONIAN ABDUCTION
April 26, 2012: In Lebanon, the military tribunal issued the death sentence against 26 individuals for their involvement in the 2011 abduction of the seven Estonian cyclists.
The tribunal had charged 29 suspects for being involved in the crime, as well as a number of others committed in Lebanon over the past year.
Besides their involvement in the abduction, the suspects were charged with forming a crime gang, undermining the authority of the state, being associated with the Fatah al-Islam militant group, using unauthorized weapons, killing security forces member Rashed Sabri, and attacking members of the Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau.
They have also been found guilty of armed robbery and forging Lebanese passports and identification cards.
In addition, they have been charged with bombing stores that sell liquor and vandalizing Christian monuments.
Of the 29 suspects, nine are in custody, while the rest remain at large and they include a Syrian national, Mohammed Ahmed Ahmed, also known as Abu Zarif, who has been held by the Syrian authorities.
He has not yet been handed over to Lebanese authorities.
The seven Estonian cyclists were kidnapped in Lebanon in March 2011 as they entered the country from Syria.
They were abducted in the eastern Bekaa and kept in captivity in Lebanon and Syria until July of that year.
Wael Abbas, the suspected ringleader in the abduction, was arrested in November 2011.
He was detained by Syrian security forces as he was attempting to escape to the country through a false ID.
In September, the Internal Security Forces killed two accomplices of the alleged mastermind behind the kidnapping during clashes in the area of al-Bireh in Rashaya.
Later that month, two Intelligence Branch officers were injured when they were ambushed by armed men in the hunt for the kidnappers in the village of Jlala near Shtaura. (Sources: naharnet.com, 26/04/2012)