Lebanese soldiers attack doctor in Tripoli hospital, army issues apology

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Leaked surveillance camera footage from inside a Tripoli hospital shows a group of Lebanese soldiers surrounding a doctor in a hallway, where they appear to be arguing. Two of the soldiers are then seen hitting the doctor across the face and pushing him into an office as the others crowded around.

The Lebanese Army issued an apology Wednesday and announced that the two soldiers had been arrested after the video from Dar al Shifa Hospital surfaced.

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A statement issued by the hospital’s medical committee said the dispute had arisen after the doctor refused to allow soldiers to interrogate a shooting victim who was in critical condition and “while the doctor wanted to complete the process of providing first aid to the injured, the Army members wanted to interrogate him when his condition was critical and it was not possible to investigate him.”

The hospital administration said in a statement, “On the evening of Tuesday, May 19, 2020, after a wounded person arrived at the hospital’s emergency room as the result of an individual problem, and after the arrival of the competent security authorities, one of the hospital’s emergency doctors was beaten by one of the soldiers.”

The statement went on to say that the hospital administration “condemns this act by all measures” but went on to say that “we are certain this individual error made by a member [of the Army] does not represent its leadership” and that “we [do not support] the release of the leaked video clip.”

The Lebanese Order of Physicians, after an emergency meeting Wednesday, issued a statement condemning the soldiers’ attack on the doctor, who they identified as Louay Shalabi. In the statement, the Order said that the video “leaves no room for any confusion about the terrible nature of the attack” and that “what makes the attack more terrible is that it happened because of the doctor’s commitment to his duties toward the cases he treats” and the fact that the attackers “belong to a formal apparatus that is the subject of the trust of citizens and is entrusted with ensuring public order and good application of laws.”

The order called for the Army to take “maximum disciplinary measures against the members responsible for the incident and to take whatever measures it deems necessary to prevent the recurrence of such events” and for the military courts to prosecute the soldiers involved and impose “the most severe penalties” on them.

The Army, in its statement issued Wednesday morning, said the incident is open for investigation.

“Regretting what happened, the leadership of the army confirms that what these two soldiers did is individual action that does not represent the institution, its ethics and principles,” the statement said. “…The leadership of the army affirms its strong respect for the medical body, its appreciation of its lofty humanitarian message, and its rejection of its staff being exposed (to harm) under any reason or pretext.”

Minister of Defense Zeina Akar issued a statement calling for the authorities to take “the disciplinary measures necessary to preserve the dignity of the doctor and the hospital and not to repeat such incidents under any circumstances.”

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