BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanon’s embassy in Cairo has asked Egypt for protection after receiving an anonymous pledge to avenge the lynching of an Egyptian by villagers near Beirut last week, a Lebanese official said Monday.
“The Lebanese ambassador, Khaled Ziadeh, has asked Egyptian authorities to provide the embassy with protection,” after receiving the threatening phone call on Sunday, a government source told AFP.
The caller “immediately hung up after making the threat,” the source added.
He vowed to avenge the death of Mohammed Muslem, an Egyptian suspected of murdering an elderly couple and their two young granddaughters in Ketermaya, 25 kilometres (15 miles) southeast of Beirut, who was lynched by an angry mob on Thursday.
Muslem, 38, was being driven by a police escort to re-enact his crime when several hundred residents of Ketermaya dragged him out of the police car and beat and stabbed him to death before hanging his body on a pole with a butcher’s hook.
A security official told AFP that Muslem was already suspected in Ketermaya of the rape of a 13-year-old girl about two months ago.
Gruesome images of the lynching were broadcast by local television stations, prompting a wave of condemnation, including from Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and Interior Minister Ziad Baroud who called for an inquiry.
But no arrests had been announced by Monday.
Police chief Ashraf Rifi said he has taken disciplinary measures against the officers escorting Muslem for failing to take the necessary precautions, given the anger of the villagers less than 24 hours after the quadruple murder.
Lebanon’s prosecutor general, Said Mirza, has approved the handover of Muslem’s body to the Egyptian embassy in Beirut for repatriation, judicial sources said on Monday.