Head of Lebanon’s General Labor Confederation Arrested After Insulting Late Patriarch Sfeir in Leak

Sunday, 19 May, 2019 - 08:00
Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat

Head of Lebanon’s General Labor Confederation Bechara Asmar was arrested on Saturday after he insulted late patriarch Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir in a leaked video.

Before beginning his press conference, Asmar appeared in the video while mocking Sfeir, who passed away a few days ago, as he was unaware the microphones were already turned on.

Acting Cassation Prosecutor, Judge Imad Qabalan, issued the arrest warrant on Saturday, while a large number of Lebanese called on Asmar to resign from his post.

Qabalan also opened an investigation into Asmar and the five other individuals who appear to be laughing at Asmar’s comments in the same leaked video.

Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rahi sternly condemned on Saturday Asmar’s offensive remarks on Sfeir.

In a statement issued by Bkirki’s press office, the Patriarch welcomed the swift mobilization of the state prosecution.

"Such comments automatically disqualify their author from assuming responsibilities relevant to public affairs," Rahi said.

He added that the doors of Bkirki would remain closed to Asmar until "he makes amends for his sin."

In a tweet posted on his account, Justice Minister Albert Serhan said the head of the GLC had been remanded in custody.

"I have been following up on Beshara Asmar's affair with the acting state prosecutor since morning, and he informed me that after his questioning, Asmar had been detained and that investigations with the concerned side were still underway," Serhan said.

In a separate tweet, Labor Minister Camille Abousleiman said his ministry would take legal action against the union leader.

Asmar’s lawyer said head of the GLC clarified he did not mean to insult Sfeir, adding there was “no clear, explicit or convincing justification” for his arrest.

On Saturday, the Maronite League canceled the membership of Asmar and decided to sue him over his insulting remarks.

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