Lebanese cabinet agrees on death penalty against Israeli spies
Youth and Sports Minister Ali Abdullah said Thursday that ministers had unanimously agreed during a cabinet session that the best punishment for Israeli collaborators is the death penalty, DPA reported.
The decision comes after Charbel Kazzi, an employee of the Alfa mobile company - one of the country's two main mobile-phone networks - was arrested last week on suspicion of spying for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman was quoted Thursday as saying that he would sign death penalties against Israeli spies issued by the judiciary.
The Lebanese Constitution calls for death sentences to feature the signatures of the president, the premier and the justice minister.
"I trust verdicts issued by the military court and I will sign them," Suleiman said.
The Lebanese cabinet has stressed the need to speed up investigations into Israeli spy networks and follow up with swift verdicts, amid growing pressure by domestic parties in the wake of Kazzi's arrest.
In the wake of the latest cabinet meeting, Abdullah also said that investigations launched by security forces to uncover Israeli collaborators must be secret, adding that the cabinet should be held responsible if any information is leaked to the media.
The Lebanese authorities have arrested dozens of people who are accused of collaborating with Israel, most of them suspected of leaking information about the Lebanese Shiite militant group, Hezbollah. Lebanon and Israel remain in an official state of war.
A Lebanese security source said investigators working on Kazzi's case are trying to determine if he was part of a wider network. The source also noted that "the investigation will take its time, since the agent (Kazzi) is extremely dangerous."
Lebanese army intelligence officers have also arrested the chief of Alfa's transmission and broadcast section on suspicion of providing Israel with sensitive information.
According to Lebanese media reports, Kazzi told investigators he had been an Israeli agent since 1996. Kazzi used to head a subdivision of the mobile company's network engineering department.