Pictures: Samir Geagea + cross
Freedom Bill Passed, Geagea Leaves Jail Straight to Europe this Weekend
July 18, 2005/Naharnet
Church bells rang across Lebanon's Christian heartland Monday as parliament overwhelmingly passed a parole bill that put Lebanese Forces commander Samir Geagea on the homestretch of his race to freedom, hopefully by the end of the week.
Long convoys of cars with honking horns joyously toured the streets of Besharri, Geagea's hometown in north Lebanon's cedar mountains and around his house in suburban Zouk Mosbeh north of Beirut just as TV networks interrupted the regular programs to flash out the passage of the freedom bill.
Giant Geagea portraits adorned by roses, national and LF banners, were hoisted over each of the cars in the wildly cheering caravans amid calls blared by loudspeakers to refrain from provocation or law-breaking acts.
"This is a dream that came true. We waited for it for 11 years, 2 months and some days," Mrs. Geagea told reporters after leaving parliament in all-white dress, which she described as a wedding gown. "History has been made and Lebanon's civil war is finally over."
The vote was unanimous for Geagea. Hizbullah's 13 legislators walked out of the hall when the vote was called to avoid casting 'no' ballots or abstain. An earlier vote for the release of the Dinniyeh and Majdal Anjar detainees was near unanimous, with only one legislator voting against.
Gen. Aoun and Walid Jumblat failed to attend the session. But Saad Hariri, who treasures his Tayyar Al Mustaqbal alliance with the LF, jetted back from a private visit to his family in the Saudi capital of Riyadh in time to attend and vote.
The LBCI said once the legal process for enforcing the parole bill is completed, probably by the weekend, Geagea would be taken straight from the Yarze prison to Beirut's Rafik Hariri airport for a trip with his wife Sitrida to a European capital, most probably London.
Geagea, 53, has lost a lot of weight in prison. He would be admitted to a hospital to undergo extensive medical tests and be nourished back to normal before returning home to take up his role among Lebanon's policymakers.
Geagea's Parole Includes Girgis Khoury, Runaway LF Activists
July 18, 2005/Naharnet
Geagea's parole bill and the de facto recognition of the LF as a full-fledged political party that contested the May-June elections, winning six seats, have effectively revoked a 1994 government resolution that outlawed the Lebanese Forces, calling it a civil war militia bent on partitioning Lebanon into sectarian mini-states.
"The LF is a nationally acclaimed political force and Samir Geagea's release turns the last page of the civil war forever," George Adwan contends, saying Girgis Khoury, who has been imprisoned since Geagea's 1994 arrest, will also be freed.
"The parole bill cancels the crime for which Samir Geagea and Girgis Khoury were imprisoned. So Khoury is 100 percent certain to be freed, too, and all LF runaways who fled Lebanon to avoid arrest will be entitled to return home unmolested," Adwan noted.
Mrs. Geagea and Adwan have reasserted the LF alliance with Saad Hariri, Walid Jumblat and Qornet Shahwan as an integral part of the March 14 uprising that drove Syria out of Lebanon in the wake of Rafik Hariri's assassination and the LF will be an equal partner in the decision-making process of the quadripartite pact.
Both Mrs. Geagea and Adwan held a hushed-up meeting with Saad Hariri on Saturday and then held a meeting with Jumblat in Moukhtara on Sunday, after which Jumblat convened his bloc in parliament and delegated lawmakers Marwan Hamadeh and Fouad Al Saad to see Speaker Berri to 'coordinate' the parole vote Monday, Hariri's Al Mustaqbal newspaper reported.
Legislator Ghazi Aridi said later that an agreement has been reached by the LF, Hariri's Tayyar Al Mustaqbal and Jumblat's bloc in parliament to separate Geagea's parole bill from that of the Dinniyeh and the Majdal Anjar detainees.
"The parole bill for those will be tabled for a vote in Monday's session before that of Geagea's so that the Muslims are assured that they won't be double-crossed by dropping Dinniyeh-Majdal Anjar parole if Geagea's bill is passed first," Aridi said.
Geagea set for release as Lebanon approves amnesty bill
By Majdoline Hatoum
Daily Star staff
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
BEIRUT: Lebanon's Parliament approved an amnesty bill which will finally secure the release from jail of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in what was described by his wife as "the end of Civil War." Geagea, serving the 11th year of a life sentence for murdering Prime Minister Rashid Karami, is expected to be released later this week once the bill is formally signed into law by President Emile Lahoud.
After the motion to pardon Geagea was passed, Strida Geagea, wife of the jailed LF leader, said: "What happened today is a very big dream that we have been awaiting for 11 years and two months."
She added: "I want to thank my fellow MPs who expressed the will of the Lebanese people to turn the page of the war for good and to move to comprehensive national reconciliation."
Geagea added her husband will "return to politics" once he is released, but not before the couple take a long holiday in a European capital to allow him to recuperate from his prison time. Geagea said: "We want to spend some time alone before he engages in political life again."
The imprisoned LF leader watched the news of his amnesty on television in his cell in Yarze, in the hilltops east of Beirut.
Yesterday's historic parliamentary session also approved another amnesty bill for a number of detained Muslim militants who have been held in prison for the past five years charged with endangering state security.
The second bill will free dozens of Islamists jailed after deadly clashes in 2000 with the Lebanese Army in the far-northern Dinnieh area.
Others covered by the bill include the so-called Majdel Anjar suspects involved in the alleged plot to blow up the Italian Embassy in Beirut last year.
Geagea, 53, is the only Lebanese warlord who was punished for crimes perpetuated during the long Civil War which ended in 1990.
He is serving four life sentences for murdering three political rivals, among them a prime minister, and one failed attempt to assassinate a minister.
The LF leader had said the sentences were politically motivated by the then pro-Syrian authorities.
The vote was almost unanimous for Geagea with 100 MPs voting in favor for his release in the first legislative session since the elections ended last month.
But Hizbullah's 13 MPs, who bitterly remember Geagea's former close links with Israel, walked out of the hall before the vote was called.
Another of Geagea's former foes, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, congratulated The LF leader and said he hoped to see him released soon, adding: "Hopefully he will soon be taking part in Lebanon's political life."
Referring to his own fight with Geagea during the Civil War, Aoun said: "We might agree or disagree on politics, but we will not fall out with him again."
LF supporters celebrated the parliamentary vote.
In Geagea's northern mountain hometown of Bsharri, supporters fired bursts from assault rifles in celebration minutes after the news of his amnesty was announced.
Others waved flags outside Parliament in the capital and the northern and eastern suburbs where most Christians live.
A campaign for the release of Geagea has gathered momentum since the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri which unleashed a wave of anti-Syrian feeling.
Opposition MP Akram Chehayeb said before voting on the parole: "This is a serious and major continuation to national reconciliation in the country, and should end the phase of arbitrary judiciary decisions in Lebanon."
The LF alllied with former war foes during the last parliamentary elections, including Druze leader Walid Geagea. They are now in a majority coalition in Parliament with the Future Movement led by Hariri's son and political heir Saad.
Retrieved from Annahar
translated by Fr. Antonio
In 1994, Samir Geagea was asked: “On whom do you rely? On what national or regional power, on which great power do you rely?
“You are right” he said “I rely on a great power, but it is greater and greater than any other power you can imagine. I rely on Him alone, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. My ultimate hope, is that no one would ever believe in any moment that God is dead and that He doesn’t intervene in history, because the traces, the signs of His Presence are absolutely clear in every stage of our life.
No matter what, I have all the faith, and even deeper and farther than faith, that no matter how long, difficult, hard, and bumpy the way would be, at the end it won’t be but His Will.”