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3 Lebanese Ex-Fighters Given Death

April 28, 2002|From Associated Press

BEIRUT — A Lebanese military court has sentenced to death in absentia three former militiamen convicted of collaborating with Israel during its occupation of southern Lebanon.

Hassan Sheeth, Robin Abboud and Habib Awada received the death penalty for serving in Israel's proxy militia, the South Lebanon Army, the court announced Friday.

The now-defunct militia helped Israel patrol the southern Lebanese border zone during its 18-year occupation, which ended in May 2000.

The three men are believed to be among the hundreds of SLA officers who fled with their families to Israel and other countries after Israel pulled out of the area.

Eight other men were convicted on the same charges. Three of them were sentenced in absentia to life in prison, and five others, who were present, to prison terms ranging from two months to seven years.

Since June 2000, the military court, whose verdicts cannot be appealed, has sentenced more than 3,000 people to prison terms of up to 25 years for collaboration with Israel. During the same time, about 70 former militiamen have been sentenced to death in absentia for killing or conspiring to kill Lebanese guerrillas.

Since the militia collapsed, more than 2,200 former fighters have surrendered to Lebanese authorities or been captured.

Also Friday, a Lebanese man who served a nine-year prison sentence in Israel for cooperating with anti-Israeli guerrillas was released.

Mahmoud Hamad Hammoud, a former employee at the Italian Embassy in Beirut, was arrested by SLA militiamen in 1993 and convicted by an Israeli court of cooperating with Hezbollah guerrillas.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah led a guerrilla war against Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon.

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