Interview with Jamil Sayyed – »Germany is responsible for my detention«
Eingestellt von R. Chatterjee
For four years Jamil Sayyed, former chief of Lebanon’s General Directorate of General Security, was detained as one of the main suspects in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Robert Chatterjee and Christoph Dinkelaker met Sayyed in Beirut this April. In this interview he lashes out against the German UN-Investigator Detlev Mehlis as well as against Germany’s foreign intelligence agency BND and the German news magazine Der Spiegel. A German translation of this interview was published in the German quarterly magazine zenith.
Alsharq: What would you do if you met Detlev Mehlis today?
Jamil Sayyed: The first feeling that would come to my mind is that I would have to vomit.
What led to your detention – and to your release?
It was a long battle that lasted for 4 years to get freed from my political and arbitrary detention. I was never exposed, neither by Detlev Mehlis nor his team , nor to any witness, proof or charges. On August 30 2005, British officer Ken Korlett from the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC), came to me with a letter, sent to me by the president of UNIIIC Mr. Mehlis, who had himself signed the paper. That Search Warrant read: »According to witnesses heard by the commission….Jamil Sayyed should be considered as suspect…«. From the day they presented the letter to me and multiple times later on, I asked them: Where are your witnesses? No answer!
Mehlis and his German team were counting on analyses, rumours and political accusations – nothing connected to the real crime to justify my detention. Everything related to a serious investigation was not done. They had a prefixed idea that Syria had committed the crime. They were part of a dirty political conspiracy. That´s why they presented more than 10 Lebanese, Syrian and other false witnesses that caused my detention for 4 years. I am sure, by proofs and facts, that Detlev Mehlis and Gerhard Lehmann were very consciously involved, in collaboration with some parts of the Lebanese authorities including security officers and judges, and in the fabrication of false witnesses – to the point that they invited me personally ,through promises, to become a false witness against Syria. Gerhard Lehmann came here to my house, three months before my arrest, and later, on the first day of my detention at the Commission in the presence of Mehlis, he made political proposals that had nothing to do with a true investigation, and his conclusion was: »Find a victim or it could be you«.
What were their motives?
There was a dirty game, an international one, played through the new pro-American Lebanese government, to attack the Syrian regime through the investigation by any means necessary, including false witnesses. That´s what the two German officials have done. Mehlis was the Head Commissioner and Lehmann the head investigator in this system. That´s why when I was lately invited upon my demand to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in The Hague for two consecutive public hearings, I said: »The presence of one false witness could be an accident that can happen in any investigation. But when more than 10 false witnesses are presented, as was the case with Mehlis and his collaborators, then it is no more an accident – it is a conspiracy for political reasons.« Because if they had succeeded in their plan to bring me as the major false witness, as Gerhard Lehmann had invited me to do, the false witnessing against Syria, and Bashar al-Assad in person, would be similar in consequences to the false accusations about weapons of mass destructions against Saddam Hussein. I was asked to do the following: »Go to Syria, ask al-Assad to form a comity of judges that will choose a Syrian ›fat victim‹ to confess about committing the crime for personal reasons. That victim would be found later killed in a car accident or a suicide. Just after, the Syrians would invite the Commission to discuss the issue and we could then find a compromise with the Syrian regime similar to the one done by Gadhafi in the Lockerbie case« Those were the exact words pronounced by Gerhard Lehmann in presence of the Police Attaché in the German Embassy in Beirut, Stefan Erhart. I am ready to go to a polygraph in Germany, facing Mehlis, Lehmann and Erhard to prove – me and them – that they were part in a dirty political game under the umbrella of the International Justice in the conspiracy of false witnesses to involve wrongly Syria and Lebanese officers.
So you say that the Germans had an active role in that?
What disturbed me is that Germany followed the situation in Lebanon, their embassy read about scandals around Mehlis and Lehmann. But even after our release from the Tribunal, the German government did not open an investigation, although their people in the Commission were representing the German judiciary and the German police and by doing so they dishonoured the reputation of their country.
Why were the Germans acting like that?
In my role as the head of the General Security in Lebanon, I used to have excellent relations with your security services and the Ministry of Interior. I negotiated with the Germans an agreement about some ten thousand Lebanese illegal immigrants in Germany. And we agreed that any Lebanese who presented a threat to Germany’s security would be extradited within a certain timeframe to preserve security interests of Germany. So we had very good relations at the level of the Ministry of Interior. On another level, we had a close relationship with the German Intelligence Service, the BND through its representative in Lebanon. I was well known in Germany due to my efforts, e.g. concerning prisoner swaps. We are not people of crime and of blood and they know it. Despite all of this, the German government did not make any move to treat this situation, officials in your country unfortunally betrayed the confidence of the Lebanese people. The BND officer at this time was Mr. Sold who now holds a high rank in the BND administration.
Since your release you have sued several Lebanese media outlets. Would you go as far as bringing Mehlis and Lehmann before court?
Already during the time of my detention, I made several official complaints to the investigation against Mehlis and Lehmann for their participation in the fabrication of false witnesses to cause my arbitrary detention for political reasons. Even before my release, i presented to the Commission after Mehlis’ term of office , headed later by Serge Brammertz and later by Daniel Bellamare, official complaints to the investigation and to Lebanese judges. That is one part. Besides, since my detention was politically motivated, I was subject to many defamations. The case against the Future newspaper was one of 25 complaints at the Publication Court. Another legal action for defamation based on false witnesses was presented by me against Mehlis in France and the French investigation judge took a decision to convoke him for a hearing .This convocation was sent by an international summon to the German authorities to notify Mehlis with no answer until now, whereas the Philippine authorities answered that Mehlis who is currently working there could not be notified since he enjoys diplomatic immunity. The third type of legal action I took was in Syria because some of the false witnesses were Syrian citizens and the Syrian Law accordingly allowed me to present a case against Mehlis, Lehmann and all their contributors, including the Syrian false witnesses, as partners in this conspiracy. Despite all of this, I didn´t find one German official to come to Lebanon and ask me about what happened and I am really seeking any NGO in Germany to come and see me if they are interested in Human Rights violations and abuses committed by German officials abroad. The German authorities’ behaviour in this matter was worse than any exercise of local services in the Third World. I have had the occasion to see in the eyes of Gerhard Lehmann several times and i can assure you that it seemed to me while looking at him as if his eyes were made of glass and I could never forget the impression he gave to me that Hitler didn´t die. And although Mehlis was the leading judge in the commission, he was acting like a slave to Lehmann. I am ready to confront them in front of any German Court by facts and proofs if the German authorities decide to open an official or parliamentary investigation.
Is it something personal with you and Lehmann?
I did not know Lehman before. This case, this scandal destroyed the human and political image and respect of Germany to be a country of institutions. How can they allow officials to convey this image of their country abroad? I am ready to go to any parliamentary committee, or university or press conference in Germany to explain what happened in Lebanon in connection with Gerhard Lehmann and Detlev Mehlis.
Aside from Mehlis and Lehmann, do you hold the German government responsible for your detention?
They were responsible for my detention. And even if they just knew later, they should have done something! There should have been official steps. Surely, Lehmann and Mehlis were working under the umbrella of the United Nations in this Commission. However, Mehlis is an active judge in Germany, as prosecutor in Berlin after he left Lebanon, and Lehmann was a policeman, a member of the security services. If they were criminals in this, this immunity would not work. They committed crimes. And all the German team was expulsed from the Commission at the end of 2005. They were thrown out! The German government has not asked why those people have thrown dirt upon the German image.
So what went wrong with the investigation?
Surely, it was a huge crime and from the first impression, a political crime. However, like with any other crime, you start from the crime scene, you put all the hypotheses logically and you proceed by elimination. And when you try to confirm your hypotheses you have to do that with elements directly from the crime scene, by circumstantial evidence and by human ones coming from witnesses. Then these hypothesis will give a scenario: how it happened, the tools, the means, the reasons. Surely, every investigation is a combination of form and context. When you violate the form, then your context and scenario will not be acceptable in front of any tribunal. From 2005 until now in 2011 they have wasted 6 years because they put all their energy to confirm that one hypothesis implicating Syria without having any credible witnesses or proofs. Who established this violation from the first day? It was Gerhard Lehmann and Detlev Mehlis with a contribution from certain elements within Lebanese political authorities using security and judiciary tools and with the cover of the UN. All this happened at a time of international madness during the Bush administration. So they sacrificed the procedures for their goals. That was in itself a bigger crime even than the initial crime!
Will the truth behind the crime will ever be revealed?
If you don´t come up with a credible investigation within the first months after the crime, how can you expect to get one after 6 years? And it is Gerhard Lehmann and Detlev Mehlis who bear the responsibility for this delay.
So what will the STL present then?
Who knows? Everything related to the crime was destroyed by the Commission – even its credibility. So will you ever bring someone to believe to have found the truth? In 2005, just 5 days after Hariri´s assassination, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Siyasah published a story implicating Syria and Lebanese in the crime. I said to Mehlis: »Go to Kuwait and ask the owner about his sources.« Now the same scenario is repeated by Der Spiegel who contributes in circulating rumors. And Lebanon is the country of rumors!
What about Hizbullah´s role implicated in an article by Der Spiegel?
I was released from my political detention on April 29 2009. Look at this surprising coincidence. Less than one month later, on May 24 2009, Der Spiegel published their article, transferring the accusation from Syria to Hizbullah!!!
How did Der Spiegel put you then into their picture?
Journalists and magazines are free to publish anything they want based on proofs. Der Spiegel insisted three times through my lawyer in Paris, from May to September 2009, to interview me. And I agreed to go to France and met there with the representative from Der Spiegel, Britta Sandberg, and even Erich Follath, the author of the article on Hizbullah´s implication. I gave them answers and they made commitments to me that they would publish it after my approval. Later on, they created so many excuses and they never behaved professionally and respectfully. Until now, 2 years after, they didn´t publish anything. They wrote to me that they have legal problems in publishing my interview. I don’t believe them, since Der Spiegel are not amateurs in this profession and they should have known previously about the law, especially that I confirmed with respect to the interview my full personal and legal responsibility of its content, while for example, the article published by Der Spiegel accusing openly Hizbullah, was based on unknown sources which could put shadow on its credibility and legality. All of this means to me that someone exerted in Germany pressure to forbid the publication of my interview to protect the abuses of Mehlis and Lehman in violating human rights through their role in the conspiracy of my political detention in Lebanon for 4 years from 2005 to 2009. A respected and responsible magazine should not have accepted such thing.”
(Quelle: Naher und Mittlerer Osten – الشرق)