More than one hundred protesters gathered in Karm El Zeitoun, Ashrafieh on Saturday evening to march on prominent businessman Antoun Sehnaoui’s home following the death of Georges El-Rif who died on Thursday after being stabbed a reported 15 times following a traffic accident that escalated into a physical confrontation. #فيديو آخر للإعتداء على المواطن #جورج_الريف في شارع الجميزة #الاشرفية من قبل طارق يتيم
Police stood in front of protesters Saturday, blocking all access to the area directly surrounding Sehnaoui’s home. Georges’ distraught wife begged police to allow protesters to approach the home so their chants could be heard.
Here is what we know so far from various media reports about the events leading up to El-Rif's death:
-- Georges picked up his wife, Rola, from the airport on Thursday. She works as a security officer at the airport. On the route home, the couple was cut off by another vehicle causing a minor crash, which damaged their vehicle.
-- The offending vehicle sped off and the couple decided to follow it, calling police and writing down the license plate number. Police told Rola over the phone that they were unavailable to respond to the incident.
-- Georges and Rola continued following the offending vehicle to a secluded Saifi street. The perpetrator then stopped, got out of his car, and started screaming at the couple.
-- The situation escalated, and the perpetrator - identified as Tarek Yateem - proceeded to beat and stab Georges repeatedly.
-- Yateem works for Minister Sehnaoui, who also serves as the CEO of SGBL bank.
This video, captured by a security camera, shows part of the assault:
Numerous spectators did little to stop the violence unfolding before them. Rola can be seen in the video attempt to fight back but Yateem continues the assault.
“I tried to stop him, but every time I came close he would slap me – the force of the blows bringing me to my knees,” said Rola, according to The Daily Star. “Some [bystanders] tried to help, but most did nothing out of fear," she added.
Georges died hours later in the hospital. He leaves his wife and four children behind.
According to The Daily Star, Yateem has been detained by police. However, as the bodyguard of a prominent and rich politician, it is being widely speculated that his powerful wasta will allow him to escape unpunished.
This is not the first time Sehanoui's bodyguards have been at the center of controversy. In an incident in 2010, Sehnaoui's bodyguards allegedly opened fire in the Maison Blanche restaurant in Sodeco, injuring eight patrons, including businessman Mazen Zein.
Ahead of the march Saturday, a vigil was held at Al Saydeh church. Lighting candles and speaking to the media, George’s wife begged for justice as protesters called for serious political change and criticized the government’s protection of corruption. Protesters proceeded to march toward Sehanoui’s home but were stopped at each turn by police wearing riot gear.
In a particularly emotional moment, Georges’ wife confronted a commanding officer, begging him to at least let her and her children confront Sehanoui’s home directly. He apologized and told her that he must follow orders.
An Indiegogo campaign has been set up to raise money for Georges’ family to support his wife and children as they seek justice for the crime. Supporters of the family are also calling for all individuals with SGBL accounts to remove their funds as soon as possible.
[Post Edit: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Antoun Sehanoui as a former minister.]
#فيديو آخر للإعتداء على المواطن #جورج_الريف في شارع الجميزة #الاشرفية من قبل طارق يتيمPosted by Lebanon Public on Thursday, July 16, 2015