27, 2008, a criminal court in Beirut dismissed slander charges against
Mugraby resulting from a speech he gave to a European Parliament
delegation in Brussels on November 4, 2003. The speech criticized the
Lebanese government for using the judiciary, in particular the military
court, to suppress dissent. Mugraby also condemned the use of torture to
coerce confessions from suspects and the court-ordered closure in 2002 of
a television station that had criticized the authorities.
decision, Judge Ziad Mkanna said that freedom of expression "is
protected by article 13 of the Constitution“and that it”can only
be restricted by law in a limited and exceptional manner." Mugraby’s
words, the judge concluded, "were protected by the Lebanese
Constitution and do not constitute a criminal act.“”This is a
victory for Dr. Mugraby and for all advocates of freedom of speech in
Lebanon,“the groups said in a joint statement.”It is now time for
the Lebanese authorities to drop the other legal actions against Dr.
initially attempted to prosecute Mugraby for criminal slander before a
military court, but the Military Court of Cassation threw out the case on
April 15, 2006 for lack of jurisdiction.
legal actions are pending against Mugraby, including criminal actions
initiated by the Higher Judicial Council, former and current judges, and
the Beirut Bar Association. The human rights organizations expressed
concern that these cases were brought to curtail speech protected by
international human rights law.
On April 25,
2000, the Higher Judicial Council asked the office of the public
prosecutor to investigate Mugraby six days after he questioned the
integrity of the judicial system and accused some judges of corruption.
Subsequently, the public prosecutor filed criminal slander charges
against him at the request of four other judges he had named. These cases
are still ongoing as Mugraby has appealed the charges before the
Accusation Chamber of the Court of Appeal.
19, 2001, the Beirut Bar Association (BBA) asked the public prosecutor to
charge Mugraby with criminally slandering its president and council after
he criticized the association’s decision to grant permission to prosecute
a lawyer who reported that her client claimed he obtained his release by
bribing the judges. The investigative judge issued an indictment against
Mugraby on February 11, 2002, and the case remains pending the resolution
of an appeal filed by Mugraby in 2004.
actions were accompanied by three disciplinary proceedings that resulted
in a January 2003 decision purporting to strike Mugraby’s name from the
roll of lawyers. Mugraby filed an appeal before the Beirut court of appeal
seeking to nullify the decision. While this appeal was pending, security
forces detained Mugraby on August 7, 2003 and charged him with
“impersonating a lawyer.” He was released three weeks later following
international protests. This case also remains pending and is tied to the
appeals challenging the decision to remove his name from the roll of
cases against Mugraby may be multiple and complicated, but they are all
motivated by a desire to punish him for publicly criticizing the country’s
judicial and legal institutions,“the groups said.”The Lebanese
government should put an end to this campaign of harassment."
summary of criminal and disciplinary proceedings brought against Dr.
Mugraby can be found at: http://www.combar.info/violation.pdf
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