Lebanon News

Military Court postpones Abra suspects’ trial

Lebanese soldiers help their injured comrade into a truck during clashes with Assir supporters in Abra, Monday, June 24, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Military Court Tuesday postponed the prosecution of suspects detained for last year’s Abra clashes between the military and militant groups in the Sidon suburb, in an effort to make way for further suspect interrogations.

The trial, which was set for today, has been postponed until Oct. 14.

Fifty-four suspects charged with terrorist crimes, the killing of Army soldiers and sparking sectarian strife appeared in front of the Military Court Tuesday.

Six of them where in the presence of their attorneys, who urged the court to release surveillance footage and video coverage of the clashes, in an effort to establish a defense based on the requested data.

Naim Abbas, the alleged mastermind behind two bombings, also appeared in court over charges linked to the case.

Abbas has been in custody since Feb. 12, over accusations of belonging to two Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups: the Lebanese branch of the Nusra Front and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades.

Abbas has already been charged in connection with the two Haret Hreik car bombings on Jan. 2 and Jan. 21, as well as with murder and attempted murder.

The Military Court also released Abdallah Halak, due to the lack of sufficient evidence tying him to the Abra clashes, the judicial source said.

Meanwhile, the mastermind behind the clashes, Ahmad al-Assir and his prominent Salafist protégé Fadel Shaker both remain at large and will be tried in absentia.

At least 18 soldiers and 28 gunmen were killed in the fighting between Assir’s fighters and the Army.

In addition to murder and weapons possession, the suspects were charged with “forming an armed gang with the aim of committing crimes against people and their property, undermining state authority and harming the state’s prestige.”





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