Lebanese halt departure of Saddam's man

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BEIRUT - As Iraq's charge d'affaires to Lebanon shrieked in anger, three plainclothes Lebanese policemen yesterday handcuffed Saddam Hussein's alleged hit- man, Hadi Hassan, and a member of the Iraqi embassy staff, Ali Darwish, as they tried to leave for Amman, writes Robert Fisk.

'We are Arabs, we are Muslims. Where are the Lebanese people?' Awad Fakhri, the charge, screamed in the forecourt of Beirut airport as Mr Hassan and Mr Darwish, the Iraqi consul in Jou nieh, were driven back to the capital. Four Iraqis, three with diplomatic immunity that the Lebanese seem in no hurry to respect, are being held for the murder of Sheikh Taleb Ali al-Suheil, an Iraqi opposition leader who was murdered at his Beirut home on 12 April. Mr Hassan has been named by one of the embassy staff as having fired two shots into Sheikh Taleb with a Beretta pistol supplied by the embassy.

Mr Fakhri and his staff drove to the airport yesterday, three days after Beirut broke diplomatic relations with Baghdad, under the impression they would be allowed to board a Royal Jordanian flight to Amman. While Mr Hassan and Mr Darwish were pushed into a police vehicle, the charge and two Iraqi dipomats were escorted on to the Jordanian aircraft.