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ARABS-ISRAEL - June 9 - Lebanon Sentences Militiamen.

A military court convicts a pro-Israeli militiaman of killing a captured guerrilla and another of serving in a prison camp in Israeli-occupied southern Lebanon, and sentences them to 15 years in prison. The sentences - the toughest so far in the ongoing trial of Lebanese who dealt with Israel - are among 36 cases, including those of 8 women, decided by the court on June 9. One defendant is acquitted and the remainder receive prison terms ranging from one month to 7 years. (A total of 72 members of the pro-Israeli South Lebanon Army face the court on charges of collaborating with the enemy, but the court puts off a decision in the remaining cases.) Court officials say defence lawyers for the 3rd group of South Lebanon Army fighters to be tried called for acquittals or lenient sentences, saying their clients had been coerced or forced into collaborating with Israel. Other charges against the defendants include joining the militia, entering Israel and marketing Israeli fish in Lebanon. (Still technically at war with Israel, Lebanon prohibits any dealings with the Jewish state.) The court, whose verdicts cannot be appealed, had already sentenced 101 ex-militiamen to jail terms of up to 5 years. Anti-Israeli guerrillas view the sentences as lenient, while relatives of the accused and some politicians call them too harsh. Hizbollah, the guerrilla group that led the fight to evict Israel from Lebanon, has demanded tough sentences, warning that ex-militiamen set free may not be safe in their villages. (For nearly 2 decades, the SLA helped the Israeli army control the southern Lebanese border. The militiamen also controlled the lives of the zone's 120,000 people, jailing and expelling those deemed a security threat to the Israeli occupation. The SLA - which was trained, armed and paid for by Israel - collapsed amid the Israeli withdrawal and about 1,500 former SLA members surrendered to Lebanese authorities. About 7,000 ex-militiamen and family members sought refuge across the border in Israel. Some Lebanese joined the SLA voluntarily, but others served to earn a living in the economically depressed border zone or were recruited under the threat of imprisonment or expulsion of their families.)
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Jun 10, 2000
Words:359
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