Beirut: Lebanese lawmaker Hadi Hobeich is facing criminal charges for defaming and verbally abusing female Prosecutor General Judge Ghada Aoun in her office.
Hobeich, who is a strong ally of outgoing Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri and member of his parliamentary bloc, the Future Movement, didn’t show up before Attorney General Gassan Ouwaidat on Friday and instead sent his lawyer.
MP Hobeich, who is also a lawyer, was summoned for questioning after a video of him surfaced on social media in which he was shown to be maligning and belittling Judge Aoun inside and outside her office at Baabda Justice Palace.
Judge Aoun is believed to be politically affiliated with, and supported, by ex-Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil’s Free Patriotic Movement.
Hobeich is seen angrily lashing out at Judge Aoun and calling her a “militia” [leader] and a “corrupt member of judiciary” who enforces justice arbitrarily. He also called her inappropriate names and said she has to be deposed and investigated.
She lodged an official complaint against Hobeich through the Attorney General’s office and the Lebanese Justice Council. Since October 17, citizens have been protesting in the streets against political corruption and the deteriorating economic situation.
Protesters have also been calling for the justice system to be independent, and free from political interference and pressure.
The controversial confrontation between Hobeich, who enjoys parliamentary and judicial immunity [as a lawyer and member of the Lawyers’ Syndicate], and Judge Aoun happened on Wednesday.
The latter had called the Director General of the Traffic Registration Department Houda Salloum to listen to her statement as a witness. After her testimony, Judge Aoun detained Salloum, who is MP Hobiech’s cousin, over suspicions of bribery, power abuse and illegitimate profiting.
Thereafter, Hobiech, along with a group of lawyers and supporters, stormed into Aoun’s office.
His lawyer showed up for the investigation hearing Friday afternoon, and dismissed accusations against his client.
Gulf News obtained a copy of an official letter that Judge Ouwaidat sent to Speaker of the House Nabih Berri informing him that MP Hobeich was caught in act of lashing out at the judge. In the letter, Judge Ouwaidat said the lawmaker will be interrogated as per article 40 of the Lebanese Constitution.
Late Friday afternoon, Beirut Prosecutor General Judge Ziyad Abu Haidar referred Hobeich to an investigative judge.