DAMASCUS,(Reuters) – Syria denied on Wednesday accusations by Lebanese Defence Minister Elias al-Murr, once a staunch ally of Damascus, that Syria”s former intelligence chief in Lebanon had threatened his life.
Murr told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation on Monday that Rustom Ghazali, intelligence chief at the time, had made verbal death threats long before the minister survived a bomb blast that targeted his motorcade in Beirut in July.
Murr, speaking from Europe, said he had decided to stay abroad because he did not trust Lebanon”s security agencies to protect him.
"Murr is rushing to join the dominant chorus which is throwing accusations at Syria left and right," said al-Thawra newspaper, a government mouthpiece.
Al-Thawra and two other state-owned newspapers quoted an official source as dismissing Murr”s charges as "full of lies".
The source suggested that Murr was trying to implicate Syria in the killing of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in Beirut in February.
"The source voiced astonishment that Mr. Murr took on such a role which was synchronised with the return from Damascus of members of the international team investigating the Hariri assassination…" al-Thawra said.
U.N. investigators on Friday completed the questioning of several Syrian officials, including Ghazali, over Hariri”s killing, which was blamed by many Lebanese on Syria, the dominant power in their country for nearly three decades.
Syria denies any role in Hariri”s killing, which sparked huge anti-Syrian protests in Lebanon and world pressure that forced Damascus to end its military presence in its neighbour in April.
Lebanon has charged three former security chiefs and the head of its Republican Guard with murder in connection with Hariri”s assassination. Their lawyers say they are innocent.