The 23-year-old Irish soldier, Sean Rooney, was killed and three other of his colleagues were wounded on December 14th, during an incident in which their armored car was shot while it was passing in the Al-Aqabiya area in the south of the country.
The military judiciary has charged five Hezbollah members, one of them arrested, with premeditated murder in the attack on a patrol of the Irish battalion operating in the United Nations Interim Force in southern Lebanon, which resulted in the death of an Irish soldier, according to a judicial source told AFP Thursday.
The 23-year-old Irish soldier, Sean Rooney, was killed and three other of his colleagues were wounded on December 14th, during an incident in which their armored car was shot while it was passing in the Al-Aqabiya area in the south of the country. Less than two weeks later, Hezbollah, the powerful political and military force, handed over the army the main shooter.
The indictment issued by the first military investigation judge, Fadi Sawan, accused Hezbollah members of “forming a group of evil people and implementing one criminal project.”
He emphasized that the actions of each of the arrested, Muhammad Ayad, and four fugitives from justice apply to the fifth paragraph of Article 549 of the Lebanese Penal Code, which states that “if a crime is committed against an official employee during the exercise of his position, during the exercise of it, or because of it, he shall be punished with death.”
The thirty-page decision concluded the aforementioned persons with “intentionally killing.” All were referred to the military court for trial. Sawan also handed a copy of the indictment to UNIFIL.
And video and audio recordings of surveillance cameras seized in the vicinity of the attack site, according to the indictment, showed, “clearly the attacking patrol was surrounded from all sides, and attacked by gunmen, and some of them were heard saying: We are from Hezbollah, and they were calling each other through wireless devices.”
At the beginning of the year, the Lebanese judiciary had charged seven people with the crimes of “threatening to open fire with an unlicensed weapon, destroying the military vehicle and intimidating its members.”
After the killing of the Irish soldier, with a bullet that penetrated his head from behind, Hezbollah hastened to offer condolences to UNIFIL. He called, through an official, not to involve him in the “unintended” incident. He then handed over the primary shooter as part of his cooperation with the Army Intelligence Directorate’s investigation.
UNIFIL did not specify the details of the incident, which occurred outside the scope of its operations, while the Irish army reported that two armored cars containing eight personnel were subjected to “small arms fire” while on their way to Beirut.
From time to time, skirmishes take place between UNIFIL patrols and Hezbollah supporters in the UNIFIL area of operations near the border in the south of the country. But it rarely escalates and the Lebanese authorities quickly contain it.
The UNIFIL force has been present in Lebanon since 1978, and it includes about ten thousand soldiers and is deployed in southern Lebanon to separate Israel and Lebanon.