Six wanted over death of Irish peacekeeper in Lebanon

Seven people were charged last week over attack that killed Pvt Sean Rooney

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Lebanese security services are still searching for six people wanted over an attack that led to the death of an Irish peacekeeper in December, a judicial source said.

They are among seven charged last week by a military tribunal over the death of Pvt Sean Rooney, whose vehicle was shot at in the first deadly attack on UN peacekeepers in Lebanon since 2015.

Only one, charged with murder, has been detained. The six at large face charges that include attempted murder and damaging a vehicle.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of military investigative judge Fadi Sawan, the source said. Mr Sawan was the initial judge asked to investigate the deadly 2020 Beirut blast that killed more than 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed large parts of the Lebanese capital.

But he was later replaced after charging a handful of senior politicians over the explosion who then protested against his appointment and argued he was not impartial.

Mr Sawan is also well known for prosecuting terrorism cases, including those involving people accused of joining ISIS and Al Qaeda-linked groups.

The Lebanese Army is leading the investigation and the search for the six is under way.

The attack took place in the village of Al Aqbiya in southern Lebanon, where Iran-backed political party and armed group Hezbollah holds sway. The group denies involvement in the attack. The only one of the seven arrested so far has been described in reports as a supporter of Hezbollah but not a member.

The Unifil convoy had been on its way to Beirut when it appeared to slightly veer off from the normal route peacekeepers would take from southern Lebanon to the capital.

About 11,000 UN peacekeepers are stationed in Lebanon, where the interim force has overseen a ceasefire with Israel — the arch enemy of Hezbollah.

More than 300 Unifil troops have been killed since 1978.

Updated: January 10, 2023, 6:03 AM