Lebanon News

At STL, family remembers son, bodyguard killed in blast

BEIRUT: In an emotional appearance, the parents of the late Mohammad Darwish – a personal bodyguard and driver to the assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri – attended the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to represent their son Wednesday. Darwish, who was 24 years old on Feb. 14, 2005, was on the phone with his older sister – a close sibling whom the family better described as a friend. The pair discussed their plans for the evening just before Darwish ended the call after seeing Hariri heading toward the convoy.

Driving the vehicle immediately behind Hariri’s, the young bodyguard’s five-year service to the prime minister would cost him his life in the huge blast near the St. Georges Hotel in Downtown Beirut minutes later.

Passengers in Darwish’s car included Yahya al-Arab and Talal Nasser, Hariri’s senior bodyguards who would later be buried alongside Hariri near the Mohammad al-Amin Mosque in Downtown Beirut.

Peter Haynes, lead legal representative of victims at the STL, detailed the consequences of Darwish’s death on his immediate family. The late bodyguard was described as the “main breadwinner” for his parents, two sisters and brother.

“Shortly after the blasts, her eyes starting bleeding,” Haynes said of one of Darwish’s sisters. “She eventually lost consciousness and had a vertigo attack. She suffered from high blood pressure and a swollen heart [for which she continues to] receive lifelong treatment.”

Behind Haynes, Darwish’s tearful parents watched, speaking only when questioned by the judges of the Trial Chamber at the conclusion of the reading.

“His death was very difficult for us,” Sahar Kalaoui, Darwish’s mother, said fighting back tears.

“Our conditions became worse each day. Each sibling suffered at least two ailments and his father suffered a lot,” she added. Saadeddine Darwish sat beside his wife, silent and shedding tears.

“You can see how he is,” she said of her husband. “He has lost all his teeth. On the day of the attack, he fell to the floor breaking his back. He’s undergone several surgeries for this.”

At the conclusion of the reading, Judge Micheline Braidy questioned Kalaoui on what she hoped the tribunal would achieve.

“We expect that truth will be revealed,” Kalaoui said. “There also should be something to compensate, partially, for the losses so we can go on living.”

In the beginning of Haynes’ presentation of the late Haitham Khaled Othman – a bystander caught up in the bombing – the trial came to an abrupt halt. According to STL spokesperson Wajed Ramadan, the court suffered technical difficulties, cutting the trial short for the day.

The tribunal will continue its proceedings Thursday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 07, 2017, on page 2.




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