The case of Samir Kassir, a Beirut-based journalist with dual French and Lebanese nationality who was a columnist for the daily An-Nahar, a reporter for France’s TV5 and a contributor to Le Monde Diplomatique, is typical of Lebanon’s entrenched impunity.
His murder by means of a bomb planted in his car outside his Beirut home on 2 June 2005 triggered a national and international outcry.
He was well known for criticizing both Syrian meddling in Lebanon and the Lebanese “police state.” As a result, he was often threatened and was constantly followed by the Lebanese/Syrian intelligence services. He was also regarded as one of Lebanon’s leading intellectuals, one widely respected for his essays. His death was one of the first of a series of shootings and bombings targeting influential journalists and prominent politicians.
Three investigations – French, Lebanese and international – have been launched into his death but none of them has so far identified those responsible. Reporters Without Borders registered as an interested civil party to the investigation launched in France, and has repeatedly called for light to be shed on this murder. His family, including his wife, BBC Arabic journalist Gisele El-Khouri, created the Samir Kassir Foundation in 2006 and the SKeyes Centre in 2007 to pursue the fight for media freedom to which he gave his life, and to keep alive the spirit of a man regarded as a “model of intellectual renaissance” in Lebanon.
Kassir’s family hopes that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is investigating Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination, will expand its mandate to include the investigation into the Kassir murder. If it does not, the family will approach the French judicial authorities again.