Three years ago today, Lebanese researcher, publisher, and Hezbollah critic Lokman Slim was killed in south Lebanon by assailants who remain unidentified to date. The investigation into Slim’s killing, much like the investigation into the August 2020 Beirut port explosion and other politically sensitive murders in Lebanon, has ground to a halt. Nobody has faced justice.
Lokman’s body was found in his car on February 4, 2021, a day after he was killed and months after death threats were posted on the walls of his home. His body was riddled with six bullets, five to the head and one to his back.
In 2022, Human Rights Watch reported on significant procedural violations and gross negligence in the investigation into his death and other politically sensitive murders. When Slim’s body was found, the area around the car was not cordoned off properly. People wearing civilian clothes were seen touching and entering the vehicle, even, on one occasion, driving it.
Lebanese authorities have made little to no progress in its judicial investigation of the killing. In November 2023, the investigative judge who had been overseeing the investigation, Charbel Abi Samra, retired. Although the investigation had been ongoing for more than two years at the time of his retirement, Abi Samra only questioned three witnesses, according to Slim’s family. Several individuals summoned by the judge did not appear for questioning. In December 2023, Beirut Investigative Judge Bilal Halawi took over the case, and the next session is scheduled to take place on February 6.
Prosecutorial and investigative authorities in Lebanon should follow-up on key evidence collected by intelligence and other agencies. They should summon and question any witnesses to the killings, and those who had been present at or near the crime scene. Only by ensuring justice for Lokman Slim and other victims of politically motivated murders will Lebanon begin to tackle its decades-old impunity problem.