ADDOUSSIEH – A prominent Lebanese publisher and vocal critic of the Shiite militant Hezbollah group was found shot dead in his car on Thursday morning, a brazen killing that sparked fears of a return to political violence in this country gripped by social and economic upheaval.
The body of 58-year-old Lokman Slim, a longtime Shiite political activist and researcher, was slumped over on the passenger seat with multiple wounds from gunshots fired at close range, security and forensic officials said.
He had been missing for hours since late Wednesday and his family posted social media messages looking for him.
To his friends, Slim was a fearless critic of Lebanon's powerful politicians, Hezbollah and its allies Iran and Syria, and a major resource on the history of Lebanon's civil war. His killing raised fears that Lebanon’s political tensions could turn into a new wave of assassinations.
Critics, however, accused Slim of sowing sedition, undermining national unity and being a Zionist because of his criticisms of Hezbollah.
“He was carrying the weight of this country on his shoulder,” his sister Rasha al-Ameer told reporters at their home after the news of the killing broke. She said she has no faith in local investigations and that the family would carry out its own private forensic probe.
“Up until today in the history of Lebanon, all investigations have led to a dead end,” she told reporters. His wife, Monika Borgmann, standing next to al-Ameer, called for an international probe. “This killer has to be punished,” Borgmann said.
Security forces found Slim's car on a rural road near the southern village of Addoussieh, in Sidon province. He was visiting friends in a southern village and was heading back to Beirut in the evening.