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LEBANON: Authorities under scrutiny after mob lynches Egyptian murder suspect

Lebanon is reeling from the shock of five brutal killings, four of which targeted members of the same family and the fifth that of the Egyptian man suspected of their murders.

He was dragged from police custody, beaten to death and lynched by an angry vigilante mob Thursday in the small mountain town of Ketermaya.

Graphic footage and video of the murder suspect's lynching (way too graphic to be posted here) began circulating immediately, leading many to criticize the breakdown of law and order.

The suspect, Mohammad Salim Mssalem, was arrested after the fatal stabbing on Wednesday of Youssef Abu Merhi, his wife Kawthar and their two granddaughters Amina, 7, and Zeina, 9. 

Mssalem was reportedly reenacting the murders for investigators at the scene of the crime when an angry mob overpowered the security officers, dragging the suspect into the streets and beating him severely. The officers were able to retrieve the badly wounded Mssalem and get him to a hospital, but angry residents stormed the hospital as well, beat him to death, stripped his body and hung it from a telephone pole as onlookers shouted for vengeance.

"I fear that because this man was an Egyptian, so he has no one to back him up," Omar Nashabe, justice editor of the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar, told Babylon & Beyond."They took advantage of the situation and acted in this barbaric and inhuman way that will destroy the reputation of this country and undermines the government."

Many aspects of the original investigation are now being called into question, including the decision to leak incendiary details to the press and the speed with which DNA evidence confirming Mssalem's guilt was released following the lynching.

"A source within the judicial police told us yesterday that the results would be ready Friday night or Saturday morning at the latest," said Nashabe. "So it was very strange to receive a phone call about it at 8 this morning,"

The town's mayor, Mohammad Naguib Hassan, told Al Akhbar that the investigating authorities are to blame for transferring the suspect back to the scene of the crime, which was bound to inflame the passions of the victim's family and local residents.

Conflicting reports have emerged regarding Mssalem's background and history. The National News Agency reported that Mssalem was wanted for crimes in Egypt. Al Akhbar has reported that Mssalem worked at a local slaughterhouse and that his mother is married to a Ketermaya resident. According to local media, Mssalem had been accused of rape several months ago, although the outcome of those charges remain unexplained.

Internal Security Force chief Gen. Ashraf Rifi reportedly took disciplinary measures against several  security officers involved for “making a grave error in the judgment of the field situation and for failing to ensure the protection of the murder suspect." Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar and Interior Minister Ziad Baroud both condemned the killing and called for an investigation.

Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (13)

So disgusting! these villagers are barbaric and inhumane, he is definiteley unstable and a psycho murderer to have done such a thing but to strip him naked, hang him, beat him, and then men and women are TAKING PICTURES OF HIM?!! they are disgusting and inhumane! i agree, this has changed my perspective on lebanon, not all lebanese but lebanon as a country has such backward villagers who live in another demeanted decade:( YUCK! btw, real muslims are definiteley NOT like this, this is evil and gross!

You know what? Yes it is tragic what happened in this village, but they are not the mob, these are human beings that are probably family to the deceased, and come on four people died, I would probably do the same thing. Yes, fine, it may not be the right thing to do, and it should be decided in the courts, but these things happen. and dont make comments that only in Eypgt and in Lebanon. This has nothing to do with the country, or the fact that he is Eygptian. People need to wake up. If this happened in Canada or the US this man would have died in the hands of family members but the only difference is not to this extent. There have been incidents in the past with people slaughtered in Canada in broad daylight as a sense of honor killing. And Bert, you should not speak because you know nothing about typical lebanese. We are strong individuals who take pride in everything and what about those four that died, its fine for them to be dead? You too Khalid, be quiet. Cause guess what money talks, the police were most likely paid off, like that only happens in third world countries. and i just read the post by ibrahim, and checked out the facebook page, the article was very interesting to read and agree with the points made, but these actions were done by family members wanting revenge. sometimes revenge is more rewarding for some than others.

Imagine someone killed your mom,dad,and two young daughters ages 7,9. And you are at the funeral grieving. The man who killed them admitted to the crime and came to show police what happened. Would you just let this guy walk away ? This 'mob' was the family of the four helpless victims who died. Put your self in their position and think if you saw the killer what you would do.

Typical Lebanese - the only thing they hate more than each other are other Arabs.

I wonder who will ever visit such a country in the absence of any laws or legal system.

did he really confess to the killings or was he a scapegoat?
A family of four murdered, emotions must have been high, sounds like the Wild Wild West.

i think everyone has the right of a fair trial this guy wasn't prooved guilty and even if he is guilty no one has the right to kill him in this barbarian brutal way .
and those mob killers are not muslims by any mean islam is about love , compassion and FAIRNESS .
shame on everyone who would ever accept something like this and anyone who would ever take a human life has no religion at all

If this man was Proven Guilty in a Court of Law, then he should've been led to the: Gallows(Rope) / Chair(Electric) / Chamber(Gas)!
But being taken out in this Barbaric manner, speaks Volumes about the Impotence of the State, thus leading the People(MOB) to take matters into their own hands!!
In the absence of the LAW & True Leadership, Mob Justice/InJustice is the only option left.........

Peace, Love & Respect.

I wonder, will those who condemn our society, and it's justice system admit that we are, at least, far better off than just about anywhere else.

I wonder, did this act of "justice" happen to occur amongst practicing Muslims?

Isn't religion particularly relevant to "any" story set in the Middle East?

Just curious

Hmm..since when is the LA Times a small-town paper reporting on rural crimes? I can't think of any Middle Eastern papers reporting on a crime in a small US town. Is there a reason I am supposed to see this as "newsworthy" ?

No doubt, the minds of this crowd acting together, show the greatest baseness of human being, Unbelievable.Now surely be proud.Stupid people.

the perfect scapegoat for a backwards barbarian mob


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