Tragedy Fatal stabbing in downtown Beirut sparks outrage

Scores of people took to the streets on Friday evening to protest against the killing of George al-Reef

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The deadly stabbing of a man in broad daylight in one of Beirut’s busiest streets and in front of dozens of bystanders has shaken Lebanese society and raised questions about the perceived culture of impunity in the country.

Scores of people took to the streets on Friday evening to protest against the killing of George al-Reef two days earlier by an enraged man following a feud over a car collision.

About 200 people marched in Beirut’s Gemmayzeh Street, a commercial area packed with restaurants and pubs, where Wednesday’s incident - filmed by a number of bystanders - took place.

Footage published on social media showed the perpetrator, Tarek Yatim, stabbing Reef up to 15 times while his wife screamed helplessly near them.

Yatim was detained by military intelligence on Thursday, the army said in a statement.

Following the incident, reports emerged that a number of arrest warrants had been issued in the past against Yatim for previous assaults.

Local journalist Dalal Mawad said that the perpetrator was connected to an influential businessman who had in the past managed to get him out of prison several times.

"The incident exposes the culture of impunity in the country," she said. "In this atmosphere, crimes like that are bound to happen.

"Had Yatim been punished and serving a sentence in jail, this crime wouldn’t have happened and George would not have died," she said.

Local media reported that Yatim was associated with a nightclub shooting in Beirut in 2010 and an attack against a school teacher.

Beirut-based human rights activist Jumana Merei said the incident shows the deep-rooted corruption in the whole judicial system.

“It’s a corruption in the judiciary, in the security forces and in other state institutions,” she told Al Jazeera. “There should not be political cover to any criminal."

Lebanese social media launched two simultaneous campaigns following the killing; one called #JusticeForGeorges and the other calling for the execution of the perpetrator and the businessman backing him.

Source: Aljazeera

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