News

July 21, 2005 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Slain journalist's wife says investigation needs full backing from both Paris and Beirut


Everyone must pull their weight, both in Paris and Lebanon, if there is to be any chance of establishing who murdered journalist Samir Kassir in Beirut in June, said Kassir's wife, Gisèle Khoury, today at a news conference at Reporters Without Borders headquarters accompanied by her lawyer, William Bourdon, and the organisation's lawyer, Jean Martin.
Everyone must pull their weight, both in Paris and Lebanon, if there is to be any chance of establishing who murdered journalist Samir Kassir in Beirut in June, said Kassir's wife, Gisèle Khoury, today at a news conference at Reporters Without Borders headquarters accompanied by her lawyer, William Bourdon, and the organisation's lawyer, Jean Martin. Khoury said she expects "a great deal from the French judicial system" but continues to "sceptical about the Lebanese judicial system." She said her husband received death threats in December 2000 and was under surveillance and followed for 40 days by the Lebanese intelligence services. She also said Lebanese TV stations received orders not to invite him to participate in political talk shows. Bourdon, who represents Kassir's wife and two daughters, said: "We want strong political will from both the French and the Lebanese. The cooperation between the two governments must be as close as possible. It is naive to suppose it will be easy to identify those responsible. This case must move ahead as fast as possible." Bourdon added: "It is absolutely essential that the international commission of enquiry and the two investigating judges appointed by the Paris prosecutor's office, Bruguiere and Coirre, should work together in a very energetic way. Time presses, we must act quickly, there are witnesses ready to testify now." Speaking on behalf of Reporters Without Borders, which is formally registered as an interested party in the legal proceedings alongside the French state prosecutor, Martin stressed that the Lebanese authorities must strive to shed light on Kassir's murder. "It is important that the truth should be established about those who carried out this murder, but also about those who ordered it," he said. "We believe the Lebanese government should commit all the human and material resources that are necessary to ensure effective cooperation. A strong commitment from the international community is also needed." Kassir was killed when his white Alfa Romeo car, which was parked outside his home in the Christian neighbourhood of Achrafieh in East Beirut, blew up on the morning of 2 June. A writer and historian with both French and Lebanese citizenship, 45-year-old Kassir had been writing columns for the past 10 years for An-Nahar ("The Day" in Arabic), a moderate daily newspaper with a circulation of 55,000. He was also the correspondent of the French-language international television station TV5 and had written for many years for the French monthly Le Monde Diplomatique. He was also professor of political sciences at Beirut's St Joseph university. Well-known for his anti-Syrian positions and his criticism of the "Lebanese police state," he had been harassed and threatened for years. In 2000, he was harassed by Lebanese state security police and his Lebanese passport was confiscated. He later said he was constantly followed by Lebanese and Syrian intelligence agents. Former prime minister Rafik Hariri had given him protection at that time. His last column, on 27 May, was headlined "Gaffe after gaffe" and criticised "the continuing repression in Syria." Kassir was one of the founders of the opposition Movement of the Democratic Left and was an active participant in the anti-Syrian protests in the spring of this year.