BEIRUT: Lebanon’s justice minister apologized on Tuesday for the mob lynching last week of an Egyptian wanted for a quadruple homicide, his office said.
"I would like to personally apologize to the government and people of Egypt for the reaction in the village of Ketermaya, which would not have happened had it not been for the gruesome crime that preceded it," Ibrahim Najjar said in a statement.
Mohammed Muslem, 38, was the prime suspect in the deadly stabbing Wednesday of an elderly couple and their two granddaughters, aged seven and nine, in the quiet village of Ketermaya, just southeast of Beirut.
Muslem was being driven by a police to re-enact his crime on Thursday when several hundred residents, who had gathered in the village square for the funeral procession, stopped the police car. They dragged Muslem out, beat and stabbed him to death and hung his body on a pole with a butcher’s hook as police watched helplessly.
A security official told AFP Muslem was already suspected in Ketermaya of the rape of a 13-year-old girl about two months ago.
Gruesome images of the lynching were broadcast by local television stations, prompting a wave of condemnation, including from Lebanese President Michel Sleiman and Interior Minister Ziad Baroud.
Police chief Ashraf Rifi said he has taken disciplinary measures against the officers escorting Muslem for failing to take the necessary precautions, given the anger of the villagers less than 24 hours after the murders.
No one has been arrested for the lynching.
On Monday, Lebanon’s embassy in Cairo asked for protection after receiving an anonymous call pledging to avenge Muslem’s murder.