Franjieh Berates Gen. Sayyed for Reopening Ehden Massacre File
Shooting a fresh salvo in the battle for Lebanon's next presidency, Health Minister Suleiman Franjieh called President Lahoud's trusted ally Brig. Gen. Jamil El Sayyed a fool and accused him of scheming to reopen the case of the 1978 Ehden massacre.
"It is Jamil El-Sayyed who sought to reopen the Ehden file," Franjieh told reporters after a meeting with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir. "When your enemy is a fool, you do not know how to confront him and whom you really are confronting."
Franjieh's outburst came after authorities detained four Phalange Party members to question them about their role in the massacre of Franjieh's father, mother, baby sister and 31 guards at their summer villa 24 years ago.
Phalangist newly elected chairman Karim Pakradoni kicked up a media fanfare as he arranged, he said, through President Lahoud to have the four released to him personally early in the week.
Franjieh deplored Pakradoni's "theatrics" and said the resurrection of the Ehden file was an attempt to discredit him within the Christian community ahead of the next presidential elections in 2004.
The move, he said, was aimed at showing him manipulation the blood of his slain family for political ends, "although I have frequently declared in public that the affair is a bygone for me, buried in the past."
"The presidential election battle has not started as far as I am concerned, but I do not know about others," Franjieh said in what was seen the media on Friday as a jab at President Lahoud.
Asked whether the Syrians had tried to make peace between Lahoud and him, Franjieh said: "they love to do it. But my differences with the president are personal, not political. Consequently, no one can make a friend of his although from a political standpoint I am with him in the same trench."
The interior ministry issued a statement late Thursday denying that El Sayyed was the mastermind of the reopening of the Ehden file.
"The Ehden massacre case does not fall within the Jurisdiction of the General Security Department or its Chief Brig. Gen. Jamil El Sayyed. It is strictly a judicial, not a security affair," the statement said.
Beirut, 17 May 02, 12:50
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