What happened today, in the Palace of Justice in Beirut, with our colleague, Dima Sadek, is a condensed image of our country and government’s conditions and the authority hiding behind them! Any activist or journalist who tries to open corruption files will be disciplined, though those in power claim that they will open these same corruption files. “Tarnishing the Reputation of the State!” was one of the main headlines of the prosecutor lawyer’s pleading; Sakhr Al-Hachem, was the attorney that these courtrooms witnessed during his defense of the former minister, Michel Samaha, who had been tried for transferring explosives from Syria. Today, the same lawyer is defending Raymond and Teddy Rahme in the lawsuit filed against them regarding the case of adulterated fuel.
Dima Sadek is accused of “Tarnishing the Reputation of the State!” because, in a video on Daraj’s website, she addressed a report that Riad Salamé had previously revealed, but Suleiman Frangieh Jr.―the former minister―didn’t tarnish the state’s reputation when he announced that he would not hand over wanted persons to the judicial authorities. Moreover, the lawyer who created the idea of “Tarnishing the Reputation of the State” defends them, as they did not tarnish the reputation of the state, in his opinion! Don’t you think that this statement is out of place nowadays? How can we speak about the state’s prestige, amid such an economic collapse and social unrest? How can we speak about its reputation after the banks’ abuse of trust and where can it be found when the banks violate the laws?
Furthermore, the format of the lawsuit implies a desire to lean onto manipulation, as long as the Plaintiff speaks nothing but utter nonsense. Dima has been subjected to a cascade of interrogations related to four consecutive lawsuits, with the purpose of keeping her as long as possible in the investigator’s room. We are here face to face with argument’s incoherence and absurdity, and its replacement through techniques that are not supposed to be appropriate for a Central Bank Governor or a bank that presents itself to its clients as a trustworthy entity. Moreover, the summoning of Dima Sadek went against the judicial decision’s recommendation to suspend the work of courts during the quarantine. Violating such a decision implies that it is an urgent matter that cannot be postponed, and it seems that the power of the governor and “First National Bank” is massive that they can suspend a significant decision made during a pandemic. Worse still, lawyer Sakhr Al-Hachem was acting in the Palace of Justice as if it was “under his command” exclaiming at the journalists, who were waiting for their colleague, “You, journalists, keep fishing in troubled waters!” At this point, we should mention that the lawyer, Shawqi Kazan, came to defend Riad Salamé, who filed the suit on his behalf at a time when Mr. Kazan was authorized to represent Banque Du Liban, not Mr. Salamé. The failure of separation between Mr. Salamé himself as a person and the bank’s entity is a part of the ambiguities that the lawsuit carried.
According to the defense case of the “First National Bank”, Dima Sadek incited small depositors against banks, and claimed that their deposits had been looted, although the deposits were not affected, says lawyer Sakhr. Yes gentlemen, Sadek did this against the angels of mercy represented by the bank owners and their partners! She overlooked the information included in the report, and dared to express her opinion on it! How rude of you Dima, to express your opinion! Damn us all the journalists who dare to express their opinion about the information, analyze it, and interpret it. It was better for us to turn to the First National Bank’s lawyer to take on this task for us. We must learn from him that expressing an opinion on the state’s financial policies involves suspicions of thinking that must be deterred.
Dima has been subjected to a cascade of interrogations related to four consecutive lawsuits, with the purpose of keeping her as long as possible in the investigator’s room.
The defense case of Salamé and his ally, the First National Bank, is an explicit manifesto of the deterioration caused by the country’s financial policies. These policies cannot be upheld without pulling the press into courtrooms, and without creating a reliable judicial quorum, in advance. The phrase “tarnishing the state’s reputation” brings back to our minds the expressions that the Baathists have always used, with the term “state” replaced by the term “nation”. Tarnishing the reputation of Riad Salamé necessarily means tarnishing the reputation of the state. This convergence of meanings between the two Baathist poles comes in conjunction with the search for channels through which Rami Makhlouf succeeded in smuggling his money from Syria, after the regime there decided to punish him.
Did “tarnishing the reputation of the banking sector in Lebanon” comes as a result of what Dima Sadek said, not as a result of that heinous act of detaining people’s deposits, or even robbing them through a major gamble called financial policies?! Did Dima tarnish this reputation when she discussed a report published by our website, a report that was not adopted by both of us, while Salamé himself had preceded us in revealing and unveiling the entity that had prepared it!
Those who read the defense case of the “First National Bank” said that it was a defense case of Riad Salamé not the bank itself! Here it becomes clear once again that Salamé surrounded himself with bankers who formed the first line of defense for him, at a time when others withdrew from him and formed another alliance that does not care much about the future of the governor. In that sense, Salamé’s pleading today at the Palace of Justice and the lawsuit he filed will not be the last scene, as the political class has begun to exchange the charges of responsibility for corruption, and soon someone will appear throwing the ball in the court of the governor and the banks. As for the “state”, that the governor is keen to preserve its reputation, his financial policy has caused its bankruptcy, and soon the day will come when everyone involved in this “loot” will be held accountable.