Militia releases Lebanese detainees
Thursday, 13 January, 2000, 12:03 GMT
Israel's militia allies in southern Lebanon, the South Lebanon Army, say
they have freed 25 detainees from prison.
The three women and 22 men, who had been held without trial, were handed
over to officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
An SLA statement said the releases were timed to coincide with the end of
Ramadan, but gave no further details. The releases had been expected last
week but were delayed.
Lebanese security services said the released prisoners were all elderly or
It is estimated that at least 120 Lebanese are still being held without
trial in Khiam jail, which is inside the area of Lebanon occupied by Israel.
They were held for allegedly helping Lebanese-based groups fighting to force
Israel from the occupied area, which Israel calls a security zone.
Human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International, describe Khiam as
a brutal jail where torture takes place. The jail is manned by the SLA under
The leader of the Hezbollah guerrilla group said on Wednesday it was looking
for an Israeli airman missing since his fighter plane was shot down over
Lebanon in 1985.
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said he hoped Ron Arad would be found alive and
exchanged for Lebanese prisoners.
Hezbollah has repeatedly denied holding Mr Arad captive but add that it is
in their interests to find him if he is alive.
The Khiam releases on Thursday came as Lebanese state radio reported that
Israeli warplanes were firing on southern Lebanon.
Last December, Israel released, for the first time since the start of the
peace process, Palestinians who had killed Israelis or tourists.