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Beirut bank ‘hero’ released without any charges

Beirut bank ‘hero’ released without any charges

Beirut bank ‘hero’ released without any charges

Beirut bank ‘hero’ released without any charges

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  • Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein held employees at a Beirut bank hostage last week.
  • Claimed he needed to withdraw $35,000 (£29,000) in order to pay for his father’s hospital bills.
  • Lebanese bank Federal Bank abandoned charges against him and released him.
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A man who held employees at a Beirut bank hostage last week in an effort to retrieve his frozen savings has been ordered to be released by a Lebanese judge.

After the Federal Bank let him to withdraw $35,000 (£29,000), which he claimed he needed to pay hospital costs, Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein gave himself up.

Because the bank abandoned the charges it had brought, the judge released him.

People who were incensed by the banking limitations put in place as a result of Lebanon’s economic crisis praised him as a hero.

Most people’s access to hard cash withdrawals has been restricted since 2019, when the Lebanese pound’s value crashed and inflation shot up.

With more than 80% of the population living in poverty and finding it difficult to pay for food and medicine, the nation is currently experiencing one of the worst and longest depressions the world has ever seen.

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On Tuesday, a Federal Bank spokesman notified prosecutors that the bank intended to drop its charge against Mr. Hussein, according to the state-run National News Agency, and Judge Ghassan Khoury subsequently authorized his release.

But it also stated that Mr. Hussein’s case will be sent to an investigative judge, leaving open the prospect of a prosecution.

“He is sitting with his family now and just relaxing a bit. There is no charge against him and he is a free man,”  Atef, his brother, spoke to Reuters.

The $210,000 in Mr. Hussein’s bank account, which he had promised to accept in exchange for ending the hostage situation, also included $35,000 for his family, according to lawyer Rami Ollaik, who in the meantime confirmed the news to L’Orient Today.

On Thursday, Mr. Hussein visited a Federal Bank location in the Hamra neighbourhood of west Beirut while carrying a gun. In order to get employees to let him take all of his savings, he threatened to burn himself on fire. He claimed that his father was in the hospital and that he needed money to pay for his care.

After around seven hours, the standoff was peacefully resolved. A throng gathered nearby the bank at that moment to show their support for Mr. Hussein and chanted, “Down with the rule of the banks.”

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On Tuesday, during the hearing of Mr. Hussein’s case, relatives and friends also demonstrated in front of Beirut’s main courthouse.

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Public support man who held Beirut bank hostage for a ‘reason’
Public support man who held Beirut bank hostage for a ‘reason’

Lebanon's banks have imposed stringent restrictions on the amount of cash that...

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