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Massacre Inquiry Panel Ends Hearings After Sharon Avoids Second Appearance

January 3, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The commission of inquiry into the west Beirut refugee camps massacre of last Sept. 16-18 ended its formal hearings today after it became unnecessary for Defense Minister Ariel Sharon to appear before the body a second time,

He had been summoned today by chief of army intelligence Gen, Yehoshua Saguy for cross examination on certain points of his original testimony. But attorneys for the two men agreed at the last minute that Sharon would make written replies to two key questions. The hearings, in progress since last October 20, would have concluded their second round with Sharon’s scheduled re-appearance. The panel is now expected to finish work and submit its recommendations within the next few weeks.

Sharon and Saguy were among nine senior Israeli political and military figures warned by the commission in November that they might be harmed if the panel reached certain conclusions on the basis of their original testimony. The law provides that persons so notified may re-appear to give additional testimony, examine evidence and question witnesses. But this is not mandatory.

Sharon was summoned by Saguy to answer questions about two documents prepared by Israel army intelligence on September 15, a day after the assassination of Lebanon’s President-elect Bashir Gemayel which precipitated the Israel army’s entry into west Beirut. The documents were said to have discussed the possible effects of the entry into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by elements of the Christian Phalangists, the Lebanese armed forces controlled by Gemayel. The Phalangists perpetrated the massacres.

Sharon, in his testimony before the commission, said he had not received the army intelligence documents until the afternoon of September 17, when the massacre had been going on for more than a day. He was subsequently warned by the commission that he might be harmed if it were found that he neglected to consider the danger of revenge and bloodshed by the Phalangists or neglected to take precautions to avert such danger.

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