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Lebanon Collaborator Hanged

Associated Press

Muslim militiamen on Wednesday hanged a man accused of collaborating with the Israelis during their three-year occupation of south Lebanon and said 14 other alleged traitors, including two women, also face execution.

Capt. Mahmoud Habli, a 40-year-old Sunni Muslim who had once been a prominent member of an Israeli-trained militia, was strung up on a metal gallows by three masked executioners before dawn in Sidon’s main square. While hundreds watched, many yelled, “Go to hell!”

Habli was the first person executed by hanging in Sidon since Lebanon gained independence from France in 1943. He was sentenced to death by a “field tribunal” of the Popular Liberation Army, a coalition of leftist and Muslim factions.

Habli was dragged from his apartment in Sidon by Shia Muslim militiamen two days after the Israelis pulled out of Sidon last February.

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A communique from the group said the tribunal convicted Habli of collaborating with the Israelis by heading a home guard militia that the Israelis established after they invaded south Lebanon in June, 1982.

Accused of Betrayal

Militia officials said Habli had killed two resistance fighters himself and betrayed scores more to the Israelis.

Habli, draped in a blanket against the pre-dawn chill, was taken from his cell by three masked militiamen. The stumbling figure, unable to walk, was held up by two of his escorts. The slight, balding Habli said nothing.

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In Sidon’s Nijmeh Square, he was blindfolded with a strip of white cloth. He stood on the hood of a jeep, the noose was placed around his neck and a militiamen drove the jeep away.

After a few minutes, two militiamen tugged on the legs of the body to make sure Habli was dead. Stitched to his dark jogging suit were placards with verses from the Koran, Islam’s holy book.

Underneath was written in Arabic: “This is the punishment for every traitor and collaborator.”

Buried in Jewish Cemetery

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Habli’s body dangled from the gallows for six hours, while hundreds of onlookers passed by. After the body was lowered, in what the executioners intended as a final insult, it was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Sidon, Lebanon’s third largest city 25 miles south of Beirut.

The militia officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the makeshift gallows will stay in the square “because we’ll need it again.”

One official said: “The men will be hanged if they’re found guilty. But we don’t hang women. They will probably be shot.”


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