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Gibran Tueni.

The Star For six months, Lebanese politician and journalist Gibran Tueni had taken refuge in France, worried that he would be assassinated in his homeland. On Sunday night, Tueni flew back to Lebanon to attend a government ceremony honoring his father later this week. Monday morning, as he drove to his office, Tueni was killed by a massive car bombing. Anti-Syria politicians, conveniently, blamed the killing on Syria, which was the most frequent target of Tueni's searing editorials in An-Nahar, Lebanon's leading newspaper; however, most politicians refrained from pointing fingers, in wait for an official investigation, for which Lebanon asked for UN help.Tueni, 48, was the publisher of An-Nahar, which was founded by his grandfather, and was recently elected to parliament. Hailing from a prominent Greek Orthodox family and long a figure in Lebanese politics, his profile rose during protests in Beirut after Hariri's assassination.Tueni's death came hours before the United Nations released a follow-up report on the investigation into the Feb. 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The report said new evidence backs investigators' earlier conclusion that Lebanese and Syrian security officials plotted Hariri's killing. It also accused Syria of trying to obstruct the investigation. Syrian officials denied involvement in Tueni's killing, as they have done in other recent bombings. "Those who are behind this are the enemies of Lebanon," Syrian Information Minister Mehdi Dakhlallah told Lebanese TV. Before his death, Tueni repeatedly blamed Syria for Hariri's killing and a series of bombings that followed. "We're seeing a scorched-earth policy," he told Newsday in March, after multiple bombings rocked Beirut over a 10-day period. "The Syrians don't want to leave Lebanon without destroying it." Ghassan Tueni, Gebran's father, returned to Beirut from Paris on Monday night and went to the An-Nahar headquarters. A respected columnist and former publisher, he headed the newspaper's editorial meeting Monday night, columnist Edmond Saab told LBC, a Lebanese television station. The headline for Tuesday's edition read, "Gebran didn't die and An-Nahar will continue."Monday's blast, apparently triggered by remote control, scorched the tree-studded hillside in an eastern suburb of Beirut and shattered windows more than 100 yards away. At least 10 cars were destroyed, some of the wreckage strewn across a road littered with debris and awash in blackened water. Acrid smoke mixed with the scent of pine as fires smoldered hours later. Tueni and the two other men--driver George Flouti and bodyguard Andre Mrad--were charred beyond recognition, witnesses said. After the explosion, mourners gathered outside the sleek, modern offices of An-Nahar newspaper, set alongside the sea where the heaviest fighting of Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war once raged. Inside the newsroom, reporters stood in quiet circles at their cubicles, weeping into tissues and leaning on one another's shoulders. Some of the reporters had decorated their desks with pictures of popular columnist Samir Kassir, who was killed June 2 by a car bomb. Tueni was the father of four daughters; his wife recently gave birth to twin girls.Gibran Tueni

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Dec 18, 2005
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