Antoinette Chahine was accused of participating in an attack in Lebanon in 1997 and sentenced to death at the age of 22. After being tortured and imprisoned for 5 years, she was finally acquitted and released on 24 June 1999.

In her book Crime d’innocence (My Crime Is That I Was Innocent) published in 2007 in which she describes her ordeal, she writes: “In an office, I am seated on a chair. I am blindfolded. Several people come to interrogate me... I've said everything, I don’t have anything to add, I would like to go home, as long as they do not hold me too long, and this present for mother’s day that I still haven’t found...

The fear overwhelms me, always surfacing with this feeling that it can’t be true, this spiral of insanity in which I am held. The psychological pressure increases. I am humiliated, treated as a criminal.”

Later on, Antoinette goes into more detail: “They grabbed my hair to hit my head against the wall. My head, a balloon, a hollow object that bounces at the whim of my torturers. The ordeal of ‘balanco’ is the rule here: hands tied behind the back and blindfolded, the whole body is lifted by a rope hanging from the ceiling.”
Finally, the verdict arrives: “I learn that I am sentenced to capital punishment, commuted to life imprisonment, ‘commuted’? I don’t know what is worse. I am already somewhere else, fainting with the shock... I want to speak but no sound passes my lips. I want to stand up, my legs do not respond. I find myself confined in a double prison, one within me, one around me”.

Since she was freed, Antoinette has become a key defender of human rights, taking on the challenge of tirelessly raising awareness to combat injustice, torture and the death penalty internationally and in her own country of Lebanon.


Activist against Death Penalty
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