Lawyers decry trials with ‘no evidence’, while authorities dismiss investigations into alleged torture of protesters.
Beirut, Lebanon – Lebanese Forces party leader Samir Geagea has been summoned to testify to military intelligence about the deadly Beirut clashes earlier in October, a judicial source has told Al Jazeera.
Unidentified gunmen fired at hundreds of supports of Hezbollah and its ally Amal Movement party at a protest on October 14 by the Beirut Justice Palace, sparking hours-long clashes that killed at least seven combatants and civilians and wounded more than 30 others.
The protesters had gathered to demand the removal of the judge investigating last year’s devastating Beirut port blast, Tarek Bitar.
Geagea is a key political adversary of Iran-backed Hezbollah and Amal. Both accuse attackers allied to his party of shooting at their supporters at the protest.
The Lebanese Forces have repeatedly denied the accusations.
Geagea is scheduled to appear at the Defence Ministry on Wednesday morning. The authorities attached a notice to the entrance gate of his residence, after his guards said he was not at home and not receiving visitors.
“Geagea was summoned to give his testimony based on statements given by some of the detainees who belonged to the Lebanese Forces party,” the judicial source said on Monday. “He is not being brought in as a witness, suspect, or charged individual.”
Earlier on Monday, the Government Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Fadi Akiki charged 68 individuals over the violence on October 14 – including 18 who are currently imprisoned – for murder, attempted murder, stirring sectarian strife, incitement and possession of unlicensed war weapons, and damaging private and public property.
Geagea said last week in a televised interview that he would be ready to give his testimony to the military court, but only if Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah would give his first.
Nasrallah accused Geagea of wanting to drag Lebanon into civil conflict.
“The real programme of the Lebanese Forces party is civil war,” Nasrallah said in a speech on 18 October.
“They don’t have a problem with causing events that lead to bloodshed … even if it will lead to a large-scale military confrontation of civil war.”
Residents said likened the clashes to violence during Lebanon’s brutal civil war from 1975 until 1990.