‘No way’ Lebanon charges will be dropped

The judge presiding over a kidnapping case involving Australian woman Sally Faulkner and a 60 Minutes TV crew in Lebanon says there is “no way the charges will be dropped”.

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Judge Rami Abdullah on Wednesday stood the case at the Baabda Palace of Justice in Beirut over until Monday, with all the defendants to remain in a pre-trial detention facility until then.

“There is no way the charges will be dropped,” he told the media at the end of Wednesday’s proceedings.

“There was a violation of the Lebanese authority by all these people, it’s a crime.”

Faulkner appeared in the Beirut court on Wednesday alongside Nine Network journalist Tara Brown and her 60 Minutes crew, Benjamin Williamson, David Ballment and Stephen Rice, over a botched attempt to retrieve her two young children in the city last week.

They are facing charges of kidnapping and being members of a criminal gang, which can attract maximum sentences of up to three years and 10 years respectively.

The children, Noah, four, and Lahela, six, were returned to their father, Faulkner’s estranged husband Ali Elamine, soon after being snatched by a child recovery team as they were walking with their paternal grandmother in the southern Beirut suburb of Hadath.

It is understood the 60 Minutes team were in Lebanon to report on the recovery of the children.

Earlier on Wednesday, Faulkner’s lawyer, Ghassan Moughabghab, said if the Brisbane mother and Mr Elamine could reach an agreement, it would “help all the accused people”, including the Australian journalists.

In his comments, Judge Abdullah also suggested that could be so.

“If any agreement will happen between them … it will help the case … for all of them.”