Lebanon: senior Christian politician summoned for hearing of deadly clashes


BEIRUT, October 25 (Reuters) – Lebanese Christian politician Samir Geagea was summoned for an army secret service hearing on Monday on the deadly clashes in Beirut this month, a source close to the party said.

The October 14 clashes left seven dead – supporters of the Iranian-backed Shiite Lebanese group Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal movement – in the worst street violence in Beirut in more than a decade.

Geagea denied allegations by both sides that armed men loyal to his Lebanese Forces party targeted protesters with sniper fire, claiming residents in the predominantly Christian area where the violence took place acted in due course. of self-defense.

Protesters had gathered to demand the impeachment of judge investigating last year’s port explosion that left more than 200 dead, Tarek Bitar.

Hezbollah, Amal and the Christian Marada Movement accused Bitar of politicizing the investigation after seeking to interview former ministers affiliated with the latter two parties.

Geagea’s hearing was set for 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Defense Ministry in Yarze, south of Beirut, where the former militia leader was imprisoned for more than 11 years after the end of the 1975 Lebanese civil war. -90, the source told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear whether Geagea would be present or whether other politicians had been invited to appear. A security source confirmed the time of the hearing at the request of Reuters.

“All the political forces (involved) should be summoned like Geagea, but it is clear that there is a big targeting of the Lebanese Forces and its leader”, for their support for the investigation into the explosion, said the source.

Responding to reports he would be summoned for a hearing, Geagea said in an interview broadcast on local television last week that he would go “on condition that Nasrallah is heard before me”, referring to Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.

MP Sethrida Geagea, wife of Samir Geagea, said in a statement that pressure was being exerted on the judiciary to target the Lebanese Forces. “It is illogical to summon the attacker when the attacker is spared even from being heard,” she said.

A Lebanese judge on Monday separately indicted 68 people, including 18 detainees, with murder and incitement to sectarian strife following the clashes.

Their political affiliations, if any, remain unclear.

Images released after the event appeared to show at least one person being shot by a soldier. A Lebanese army spokesman said the incident was being investigated by a military tribunal as part of a larger investigation into the clashes.

Separately, Lebanon’s Supreme Judicial Council, one of the country’s highest judicial authorities, met with Bitar on Monday to discuss the progress of the explosion investigation and called for its swift conclusion.

Report by Maha El Dahan and Timour Azhari; Writing by Timour Azhari; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Alison Williams

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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