Lebanese officials have reportedly arrested several suspects in connection with the fatal shooting of Irish peacekeeper Seán Rooney.
he Irish Daily Mail has reported that a source in the Lebanese Army Intelligence Service has confirmed the arrests and said other suspects are being questioned while the search continues for others suspected of knowing about the deadly attack.
Pte Rooney was killed when the UN armored vehicle he was in was shot at on Wednesday December 14 in Al-Aqbiya, southern Lebanon.
A second soldier, Trooper Shane Kearney, 23, from Killeagh, Co Cork, suffered serious injuries in the attack while two other peacekeepers sustained non-life threatening injuries.
Trooper Kearney was flown home from Beirut to Dublin this week on a special medical evacuation plane and taken to Beaumont Hospital for further medical treatment.
“Yes, we have a number of suspects and we are investigating the extent of their relationship to what happened. But for the purposes of the investigation, the number of those arrested and other details cannot be disclosed as the case is under the supervision of the Lebanese judiciary,” a Lebanese Army source told the newspaper.
Local media reports that investigators have put together a clear picture after the attack.
This was announced by the Lebanese Ambassador to Great Britain and Ireland, Rami Mortada Irish times that the investigation is “heading in a very promising direction” and it won’t be long “before we hear good news”.
Mr Mortada said it was Lebanese policy not to comment on arrests until an investigation was completed, but he confirmed the case was being given the necessary resources and being led by a senior prosecutor.
“I know from the executive branch of the government that they are determined to use all resources to ensure that the investigation proceeds as quickly, decisively and efficiently as possible,” he said.
“He is the highest prosecutor in our system and he is given the highest priority. I think it’s in good hands,” he added.
Mr Mortada said those responsible would be brought to justice “whoever they are” but argued that no Lebanese political group had “the slightest interest in attacking Unifil and particularly Irish peacekeepers who are held in high esteem in Lebanon”.
“As tragic as it is, it is a criminal act. Unfortunately, criminal acts happen. I don’t feel like it reflects a larger reality or that it’s the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Mr Mortada attended the funeral of Pte Rooney on Friday morning. There he met members of Pte Rooney’s family and assured them that “Seán’s sacrifice would not be in vain and that everything is being done to bring the whole truth to light”. He also met Foreign Minister Micheál Martin and gave him the same assurance.
“[The attack is] in no way reflect the feelings of the Lebanese towards Irish peacekeepers,” the ambassador said. “You cannot imagine how many calls I received from ordinary people in Lebanon who were dismayed and genuinely shocked by this heinous, heinous act,” he added.
The heartbroken mother of Pte Seán Rooney received a spontaneous round of applause as she called her son a national hero at his funeral service.
“I’m at a loss for words to express my love for him or my pride when I look at everyone here for Seán today, not just because, not because he’s a national hero,” she said.
“He was the most beautiful baby, the most adorable little boy and the most handsome man you will ever meet, but that is only a fraction of what was inside him. I will love you forever my son and I can’t wait to be reunited with you in heaven.”
Meanwhile, in his Christmas message, President Michael D. Higgins thanked members of the Irish Armed Forces for serving abroad.
“May I thank the members of our Defense Forces who will be this Christmas building overseas and support peace in many of the more than 60 regions around the world that are currently experiencing conflict, including conflict zones near the homeland of Jesus Christ, His birth we are in this time of celebration, and where effort and peacemaking are so scarce, where suffering and exclusion deepens.
“May I assure the men and women of our armed forces that your sacrifices for peace are greatly appreciated by the Irish people,” he said.
“We all remember the grief of Seán Rooney’s family, the families of those injured in Lebanon and especially the family of Shane Kearney,” he added.
https://www.independent.ie/news/several-arrests-in-connection-with-fatal-shooting-of-private-sean-rooney-in-lebanon-42242918.html “Multiple arrests” in connection with the fatal shooting of soldier Seán Rooney in Lebanon