Lebanese judge sues police chief over central bank governor

BEIRUT (AP) – An investigative judge on Wednesday sued Lebanon’s police chief after accusing him of preventing security forces from bringing in for questioning the central bank governor, who is accused of corruption.

The move by Judge Ghada Aoun came a day after she said that a police force prevented members of State Security, an intelligence agency, from bringing central bank governor Riad Salameh from his home for questioning.

Aoun said Tuesday that she has sent a formal letter to Internal Security Force chief Maj. Gen. Imad Osman, asking for an explanation regarding the incident. She said fighting authorities and preventing the implementation of a judicial order as Osman did, is an offense.

It was not immediately clear if Osman will show up for questioning by a Lebanese judge next week.

Salameh, who is accused of corruption and dereliction of duty during Lebanon’s historic economic meltdown, is being sued by a Lebanese anti-corruption group. The value of the national currency has plunged, foreign reserves are running low and the highly indebted government has been unable to agree on an economic recovery plan.

Salameh is also being investigated in several countries including Switzerland, Luxembourg and France for potential money laundering and embezzlement.

The division between Internal Security Forces and State Security mirrors the rivalry between the country’s politicians. Osman is considered close to former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who quit politics last month, and was a main opponent of President Michel Aoun, who backs the head of State Security.

The judge has also been blamed for being close to the president. They are both from the same family but not related.

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