BEIRUT: Islamist prisoners expressed rage Friday as the head of the Judicial Council Judge Jean Fahd postponed their long-awaited trial for another four months, shortly after it began.
Two groups of 11 men were supposed to be tried, along with 37 others in absentia.
The prisoners were arrested for alleged involvement in the Nahr al-Bared clashes of 2007.
After the clashes in the northern refugee camp, several hundred suspects were arrested for having alleged ties with the Islamist group Fatah al-Islam.
A total of 527 men, some holding Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian and Saudi citizenship, are scheduled to face trial. Of that number 86 will be tried before the Judicial Council, as will the 130 individuals who were released on bail. The remaining will be tried in absentia.
The prisoners were brought to the new courtroom, which was built within the Roumieh prison complex especially for the Nahr al-Bared trials, amid strict security measures in and around the detention facility.
The prisoners were seated in a booth confined in glass, which separated them from the lawyers, judges and other attendees.
The trial began 10 minutes late and the media was allowed to take photographs of the venue and the prisoners before but not during or after the court session. They were allowed to watch the trial from the upper level balconies.
Families didn’t attend the trial, and the hall was empty except for four lawyers who were defending the accused Islamists.
With the trial started, Judge Fahd asked the accused to introduce themselves with a microphone, which they passed around from inmate to inmate.
Since several of the defendants did not have a lawyer, Fahd tasked a lawyer with defending them. The trial was then postponed, to allow the lawyer time to become acquainted with the case.