Residents of northern region of Akkar block off roads to protest deaths of Sunni cleric and anti-Assad activist; Switzerland opens investigation in Syrian money laundering.
TRIPOLI, Lebanon – Lebanese soldiers shot dead a Sunni cleric and a second member of an anti-Assad Lebanese political alliance in northern Lebanon on Sunday, security sources said.
Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahid and Khaled Miraib, members of the the March 14 alliance, were shot in their car as they sped through an army checkpoint without stopping, the sources said.
Residents of the northern region of Akkar said that they had blocked off roads to protest against the deaths.
Hezbollah, Lebanon flags near Beirut airport – Photo: REUTERS/Sharif Karim
“The leadership of the army expresses deep regret for the death of the two victims … it will immediately form an investigative committee comprised of senior officers and military police under the relevant court,” the statement said.
In Switzerland, the state prosecutor said on Sunday it had opened criminal proceedings against Syrian and Libyan citizens on suspicion of money laundering.
Jeannette Balmer, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor, said Swiss authorities had received reports from the money laundering agency in connection with the two countries, but could not give concrete details.
Keen to step up efforts to shake off its image as a haven for ill-gotten funds, Switzerland has enacted strict laws in recent years on money-laundering.
In the case of Syria, the investigation concerns assets presumed to belong to those close to Syrian President Bashar Assad deposited in banks in western Switzerland, the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.
It was unclear who and what sum of money was being investigated, nor whether accounts had been frozen, it said.
Switzerland has frozen 50 million Swiss francs ($53 million) of funds belonging to Assad and other top officials. Last year, Swiss prosecutors froze roughly 3 million euros held in a Geneva bank by Hafez Makhlouf, a cousin of Assad, on grounds of suspected money-laundering.
The money was unfrozen after Makhlouf appealed, saying it predated sanctions imposed by the Swiss last May over the Syrian government’s crackdown on the uprising against the president.