Lebanon indicts eight retired military figures over ‘illicit enrichment’

A Lebanese prosecutor on Wednesday indicted eight retired military figures including a former army chief over “illicit enrichment,” a judicial source said, in a first under a new anti-graft law.

Popular anger has grown in the past year over alleged corruption among the political elite in Lebanon, where a dire economic crisis has pushed the poverty rate up to more than half the population.

Since mass protests erupted in October 2019, the under-fire ruling class has repeatedly pledged to root out graft, and this year the parliament passed a new law to combat illicit enrichment.

But critics have expressed little trust in a system they say is riddled with nepotism.

Those accused of graft on Wednesday included former army chief Jean Kahwaji, who held the post from 2008 to 2017, and several former military intelligence chiefs, the judicial source said.

The Beirut state prosecutor launched proceedings over their alleged “illicit enrichment, and using their official positions to reap vast wealth,” the source said.

A preliminary investigation showed a lack of correlation between their wealth and their income, the source said, adding that they would be questioned on December 10.

The official National News Agency said it was the first time such indictments were made since the law was passed.

It also made mention of a bank that several years ago had allegedly allowed Kahwaji and members of his family to deposit sums of up to $1.2 million in their accounts, without justification as to the origin of the funds.

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