Lebanese Christian's Three-Year Sentence Ends

Nov 11, 2002 03:00 AM EST

BEIRUT, Lebanon – After serving 15 months prison time on charge of collaborating with Israel, Toufic Hindy, a senior official involved in an outlawed Lebanese Christian group, walked out the prison gate a free man, this past Saturday, and was affectionately greeted by his wife and two children.

Hindy's wife, Claude, joyfully expressed to the Associated Press, "Today is a day of celebration and indescribable happiness," following the release of her husband. "Thank God the family is reunited."

The Labanese Forces were banned from the country in 1994. In his involvement with the radical group, Hindy served as the political advisor of Samir Geagea, the group's leader at the time, now serving time in prison on indictments of killing opposing political figures. Hindy was later arrested in 2001, alongside Habib Younis, an editor at the Beirut bureau of the London-based All-Hayat newspaper, and Antoine Bassil who worked as part of a team for a pro-Israeli television station at the time. All three were charged with contacting Israeli officials abroad, and jeopardizing Lebanon's relations with Syria, one of their major constituents in the war and political system.

In March, a military court in Lebanon indicted Hindy on charges of cooperating with Israeli officials – punishable by death. With tension between the warring states, Lebanese officials have been strict in condoning any suspicious activity with their enemy state. Despite the stringency in regulations, Hindy was shown great leniency by his home country officials, and given a 3-year sentence to prison, which in July was contracted to 15 months.

Similar to Hindy, Younis had this three-year sentence reuduced to 15 months and is expected to be released sometime next weekYounis' three-year prison term was also reduced to 15 months, while Bassil had his four year term reduced to two and a half years.

By Zeina Karam