BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday dismissed accusations of any links between the group and the killing of researcher and activist Lokman Slim.
“Any incident that happens in your area then you are accused until the opposite is proven? Is this something that is practiced in the whole wide world? Where else is this logic present?” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
Activist Lokman Slim was shot and found dead in his car in south Lebanon earlier in February, marking the first killing of a high-profile activist in years.
He was a critic of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group. His sister has suggested he was murdered because of those views.
Hezbollah has previously condemned the killing.
A filmmaker and publisher, Slim had spoken out against what he called Hezbollah’s intimidation tactics and attempts to monopolise Lebanese politics.
Nasrallah was also critical on Tuesday about blame pointed at the group for involvement in the Aug. 4 Beirut blast that killed 200 people.
“Hezbollah is guilty until proven otherwise – what kind of a rule is that? …Beirut port – you, Hezbollah, blew up Beirut port until the truth about the explosion is revealed,” he said.
The judicial investigation into the blast is still under way in Lebanon with judge Fadi Sawan having charged caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, whose cabinet quit after the blast, and three former ministers with negligence.
Sawan is due to interrogate one of the three former ministers, Youssef Finianos, a Hezbollah ally sanctioned by the United States for his links to the group that Washington considers a terrorist organisation.
“Our information says that the technical investigation ended and the army sent it to the judge…we asked that day the army and internal security to reveal the results of that investigation ….we are repeating our call for this and we insist on it.”
The explosion, one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts in history, added further strains to a country struggling with its worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
It was caused by a massive quantity of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely for years.
(Reporting By Laila Bassam and Maha El Dahan; Editing by Chris Reese, William Maclean)