A military tribunal in Lebanon has formally accused five members of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement of killing an Irish peacekeeper last year, according to a senior Lebanese judicial source.
Private Sean Rooney (23) was killed on December 15th in the first fatal attack on UN peacekeepers in Lebanon since 2015.
The five accused are among seven already charged by Lebanon’s judiciary in January, but a new court document filed on Thursday identifies some of them as members of Hezbollah, the armed group that controls the part of southern Lebanon where the attack took place.
Hezbollah’s media office did not immediately respond to attempts to reach it. The Amal Movement, which is headed by Lebanon’s parliament speaker Nabih Berri, declined to comment.
The judicial source said the military tribunal judge accused them of conducting a criminal act that led to Rooney’s killing and to the attempted murder of three other soldiers.
The source said the accusation was punishable by the death sentence, adding that the document referred to evidence drawn from camera recordings in which the accused refer to themselves as members of Hezbollah.
A second judicial source confirmed that camera evidence was mentioned in the 30-page court document.
One of the accused had already been detained in connection with the case in late 2022 by the Lebanese military and charged with murder. He was identified at the time as a supporter of Hezbollah.
The other six suspects face charges ranging from attempted murder to damaging a vehicle. None are in custody.
Government ‘determined’ to see justice over killin…
Hezbollah has officially denied involvement in the incident, calling the killing an “unintentional incident” that took place solely between the town’s residents and UNIFIL, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon.
On December 16th last year, then-minister for foreign affairs and defence Simon Coveney told RTÉ that he did not accept Hezbollah’s assurances that it had no involvement.
UNIFIL has operated in Lebanon since 1978 to maintain peace along the border with Israel and was expanded by the UN resolution that halted the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in southern Lebanon.
Pte Rooney was killed when the UNIFIL vehicle he was in was fired on as it travelled in southern Lebanon last year.