For the past two days, Lebanon’s internet has been abuzz with news that a Lebanese court has set a precedence to consider Captagon’s trade as a crime within the spectrum of pharmacy laws and not within drug laws. The implications of such a precedence were assumed to set the way to exonerate the Saudi Prince Abdul Mohsen Ben Saoud, currently held in (five stars) custody in Lebanon, and send him on his merry way to his execution-loving human-rights-hating homeland.
Why We’re All Talking About Captagon:
For those of us who have not been that into the drug trade in the aftermath of the Syrian war, Captagon is the trade name of an amphetamine called Phenethylline, a highly potent stimulant first synthesized in 1961. The drug has no approved medicinal uses but has shown some efficacy in some psychiatric illnesses.
This is not why we’re discussing Captagon.
Since the start of the Syrian war, Captagon has been at the forefront of the growing drug trade circulating through Syria. It’s reportedly the most used drug by the militants in that country, and is being manufactured in Syria for export to the countries of the region.
It is in that way that Abdul Mohsen Ben Saoud was caught in Beirut’s airport on October 28th, 2015, as he tried to smuggle enormous quantities of the substance out of the country.
Lebanon To Try And Exonerate The Saudi Prince?
So naturally, it’s been assumed that it will only be a matter of time before Lebanon finds a way to send that Saudi Prince on his way home. Yesterday, Lebanese blogger Gino Raidy shared a snapshot of a newspaper clip of an article detailing how a Lebanese judge set a legal precedence by considering the trade of captagon not to be a crime under the subtext of drug trade laws but under medicinal pharmacy laws. This meant that the sentence associated with such a crime would be much softer and, to extrapolate, would help the Saudi Prince’s case.
Lebanon’s internet was ablaze with the news, and, if true, such a legal precedence would’ve been another mark of shame for this great Republic to live in.
But a few things did not feel right about this newspaper article.
Why Wasn’t It Reported Anywhere Else?
Regardless of the fact that I had never heard of the newspaper that published that article, my initial reflex was to google the title to see whose else had reported it. As of a few hours ago, Google returned two results both of which were talking about precisely that article, both of which had popped in the last 12 hours, since Gino’s post went viral, and both of which were also of non-reputable sources.
Let’s also assume that this news were true, don’t you think that the Saudi-Arabia-hating camp of Lebanese politics would have jumped on it by now and shoved it in everyone’s face to show how corrupt our judicial system is, and by extension minister Rifi?
Let’s also assume that this news were true, don’t you think that there would be ANY other Lebanese news outlet that would have reported it? It’s a ghost town out there.
This could be part of a cosmic cover up to bury the news, which is why neither Google nor Lebanon’s news outlets know about it. But since when are we conspiracy theorists?
Or this could be something that is essentially irrelevant to the cause of the Saudi Prince.
What Really Happened:
The excerpt that was shared online, as it turns out, was not recent. It was of a decision set forth by judge Jean Bsaibes months prior to catching the Saudi Prince, essentially meaning that even if a Lebanese court had set that precedence before, it couldn’t have possibly done it thinking that a Saudi Prince would one day be caught in our airport trafficking 2 tons of this drug.
The decision in question took place at a Beqaa court, whose jurisdiction does not cover the court handling the Saudi Prince in Baabda.
Moreover, the judge’s decision was later overruled by Lebanon’s supreme court (Tamyiz court) effectively keeping Captagon where it is: a drug, ruled by drug trade laws.
The Saudi Prince Isn’t Leaving Anytime Soon… Yet:
There’s nothing I’d love more than to crucify the Lebanese establishment, when it comes to any facet pertaining to our daily lives, especially if it tries to get a Saudi Prince off the hook for trading drugs worth millions of dollars and hundreds of lives.
But today is not the day for us to do so.
Our legal system, as of now, is still firmly holding the prince in custody with no resolution for his situation in sight. Moreover, I suppose the question to ask at this point is the following: is maneuvering the legal system the best way to get the Saudi Prince back to his country?
If anything, the resolution of the Saudi prince situation will not occur through a legal precedence but will be part of a political deal in which he is an important bargaining chip.