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Bachar Bzeih 12 Aug 2022

Lawyers Take On Armed Depositor’s Case Following Yesterday’s Showdown

At approximately 12 PM on Thursday, an armed man entered Federal Bank in Hamra, taking everyone there hostage and demanding that his deposits be returned. The man, later identified as Bassem Al-Sheikh Hussein, revealed that he wanted access to his deposits, which are estimated to be up to $210,000, in order to finance his father’s $50,000 treatment at a local hospital.

Hussein, whose image has been iconized by some on social media, is said to have released the hostages and turned himself in to the security forces after his brother received a payment of $35,000 from the bank after negotiations. He is currently in custody.

Lawyers from the Depositors Association told Al-Jadeed that they were working on Hussein’s case. The association released a statement yesterday stating that it does not support depositors taking their rights violently, but that banks had left them no choice.

The Al-Sheikh Hussein family also blocked the Ouzai road on Friday morning in response to the arrest of their son. His mother told the assembled media that her son had sold their house and put all the money in the bank, stating that “they stole our money, Bassam is not a thief, the banks are.”

Protesters, mostly consisting of the Lebanese Depositors Association and citizens who’s savings are also stuck in banks, quickly went down to stand in solidarity with Hussein yesterday. After sending the president of the Lebanese Depositors Association, Hassan Moghnieh, to negotiate on his behalf, Hussein initially rejected the bank’s $10,000 offer before accepting an offer between $30,000 and $35,000.

Hussein received both support and criticism for his actions on social media. Protesters outside the bank were said to be chanting “Riad Salameh, any drop of blood that falls inside is on you.”