Media Exposes Yatim's Criminal Past, Aoun Urges State to 'Deter' Offenders
Lebanese media outlets scrambled Friday to highlight the criminal record of Tareq Yatim, the man who stabbed to death a 45-year-old father of four children in Ashrafieh, as Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun urged the state to “start deterring criminals.”
According to OTV, Yatim -- identified by the media as a bodyguard of SGBL Bank chairman Antoun Sehnaoui -- was among the group that beat up a valet parking attendant in 2009 outside the Sofitel Le Gabriel Beirut Hotel in Ashrafieh. He was arrested over the incident before being eventually released.
In 2012, Yatim was among those who opened fire at a motorcycle repair shop in Sidd al-Baouchrieh, killing Elie Numan and wounding two others, OTV said.
According to LBCI television, Wednesday's knife man and his group were also involved in a 2010 shooting at the Maison Blanche nightclub in Beirut. Mazen Zein and Sami al-Maamari were wounded in that incident.
Speaking to LBCI, Zein said Yatim was jailed for a period ranging from eight to ten months.
“He confessed to taking part in the crime … security forces did not allow me to face him after he was detained,” Zein said.
“All of them are protected by Antoun Sehnaoui. Who else is providing these young men with weapons? Who is giving them money? How are they roaming the streets? Who is getting them firearm licenses?” Zein added.
LBCI also reported that Yatim was involved in a 2012 incident at the Zahrat el-Ihsan School in Ashrafieh. It said the man and his associates beat up sports instructor Elie Farah and ripped off his ear after he did not allow a schoolgirl not donning sportswear from taking part in his class.
The TV network said the residents of the Ashrafieh neighborhood of Karm al-Zaytoun had been complaining of the “daily practices” of Yatim and his group.
Meanwhile, Antoun Sehnaoui issued a statement condemning the killing of George al-Rif and calling for the harshest penalties against Yatim.
Sehnaoui, however, warned against linking his name to the incident, which he described as an “individual” dispute. He also vowed legal measures over any “defamation, lies or blackmail attempts” in this regard.
In a phone interview with OTV, FPM chief MP Michel Aoun hoped the investigation will reveal all the circumstances of the crime.
“The criminal is known for his criminal record … The murderer's affiliation is also well-known and we hope the state will start deterring criminals,” Aoun added.
In response to a question, Aoun said “the killer was protected by certain security agencies.”
The FPM announced Friday that al-Rif was one of its activists. He was laid to rest Friday after a funeral at the Mar Mitr church in Ashrafieh.
Yatim was arrested Thursday by army intelligence agents in Ashrafieh. He had chased al-Rif all the way from the airport road to Ashrafieh to stab him with a knife on Wednesday after a dispute over traffic priority.
Some media reports said Yatim was under the influence of drugs when he was arrested.