French justice minister faces protesters in Beirut
Visiting French Justice Minister Rachida Dati was met by about 30 left-wing protesters outside Beirut’s Justice Ministry Thursday demanding the release of Lebanese communist fighter Georges Ibrahim Abdullah from a French prison.
Responding to a question, Dati said Abdullah, who has been in a French jail since 1984, has repeatedly appealed for a term reduction but was turned down by France’s judiciary. « He has recently submitted another request and the French judiciary has yet to pronounce a decision, » Dati added.
« Free Georges Abdullah, » and « Zionists, fascists, you’re the terrorists, » the activists shouted in French as Dati’s convoy arrived at the ministry, where she was due to hold a meeting with her Lebanese counterpart. Abdullah is serving a life sentence for the murder of a US and Israeli diplomat in France in 1982. A French court ordered his conditional release in 2003 but the decision was overturned by the Justice Ministry. The protesters, all members of the Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth (ULDY), also held up signs in Arabic and French, one reading: « It’s JUST the French minister of justice who is UNJUST. » « The French authorities have exhausted the life of Georges Ibrahim Abdullah in your jails although he has spent all his prison sentence for his struggle against Zionist terrorism which continues, » said ULDY member Nidal Mokdad as she read off a letter addressed to the minister. A life sentence in France lasts for 18 years in jail before the prisoner may become eligible for parole.