LCCC REPORT ON
BALFOUR'S CASE FOR 28/8/03
Lebanese court postpones verdict against Canadian
The Ottawa Citizen
Thursday, August 28, 2003 Page: A4 Section:
News Byline: Jack Aubry
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
Lebanese prosecutors continue to struggle to make their case against a Calgary man accused of spying on behalf of Israel as a key witnesses refused to appear yesterday for medical reasons.The verdict in the trial of 52-year-old Bruce Balfour was postponed for a third time this month, with closing arguments from prosecutors and the defence now scheduled to be made on Monday.Mr. Balfour, along with another Protestant pastor, have been accused of spying for Israel "under cover of humanitarian activities." The other defendant, Grant Livingstone, is being tried in absentia.
Mr. Balfour was arrested at the Beirut airport on July 10 as he arrived to begin a reforestation project in Lebanon. According to the indictment, Mr. Balfour visited the Jezzine region in Lebanon in 2002 accompanied by an employee of the Lebanese agriculture ministry, using the possibility of planting cedars in the area as a cover to spy on military operations in
the country.Mr. Balfour works for a group called the Cedars of Lebanon.
postponed for Canadian accused by Beirut
Associated Press - Aug. 28, 2003
Beirut The verdict has been postponed in the case of a Canadian missionary standing trial for allegedly collaborating with Israel after the prosecution asked for more time, a judicial official said Thursday. The verdict in the Bruce Balfour case, expected Wednesday, was postponed until Sept. 1 to give the prosecution more time to summon witnesses and study new documents received by the court. A key witness summoned by the prosecution failed to appear Wednesday, citing medical reasons.
The judicial official said that the court had not so far heard sufficient evidence to convict Mr. Balfour. Collaborating with Israel is punishable by up to 15 years in jail in a country technically at war with Israel. Lebanese authorities bar any traveller carrying a passport with an Israeli stamp. It is rare, however, for such travellers to be arrested. At a session late Wednesday, Mr. Balfour, a 52-year-old Christian missionary, reiterated his plea of not guilty. "I did not spy for anyone and I do not spy for anyone. I serve only the word of God and Jesus Christ," he was quoted as telling the five-man military tribunal. His lawyer, Ibrahim Hariri, argued that Mr. Balfour visited Israel on a religious mission.
Mr. Balfour was arrested on July 10 at Beirut airport on a military court order accusing him of visiting Israel and collaborating with the enemy. Lebanese Prosecutor General Adnan Addoum said last month that he received information that Mr. Balfour had travelled between Lebanon and Israel in a way that aroused suspicions and that a warrant was issued on April 2 for his arrest. He was arrested upon his return to Lebanon last month. Canadian newspapers have said that Mr. Balfour is from Calgary, Alta., and was in the Middle East directing an evangelical project to help replant the biblical cedar forests in northern Lebanon. http://www.globeandmail.ca/servlet/story/RTGAM.20030828.wbalf0828/BNStory/National/