BEIRUT/TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda questioned and released Arab Democratic Party politburo chief Rifaat Eid Tuesday over charges of threatening police officers. Eid was interrogated by Abu Ghayda for two hours at the military court building in the Beirut neighborhood of Mathaf. His lawyer Hiyam Eid was present throughout the interrogation.
Abu Ghayda decided to release Eid by the end of the interrogation, and he left the military court amid intense security measures.
Judicial sources told The Daily Star that the information extracted from the interrogation would be kept secret, adding that the investigation was not yet completed and might require a second round of questioning with Eid once his statements were cross-checked and the prosecution was consulted.
Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr had charged the ADP official early in December over allegations including “threatening to kill members of the police.”
During a Nov. 9 news conference earlier last month in Tripoli, Eid warned members of the Internal Security Forces Information Branch, saying: “The Information Branch has made the [shedding of the] blood of the Alawites permissible, therefore the [shedding] of their blood for us is also permissible.”
He also accused the Information Branch of coercing a detainee into naming his father, ADP Secretary-General Ali Eid, as a suspect in the August car bombings that targeted two separate Tripoli mosques.
Separately, Abu Ghayda also summoned the elder Eid for questioning Thursday.
Ali Eid was charged for allegedly giving the order to facilitate the escape of Ahmad Merhi, a key suspect in the Aug. 23 case of two deadly car bombings in Tripoli, by having him smuggled across the border into Syria.
The bombings, widely seen as a repercussion of the ongoing crisis in Syria, killed at least 47 people and wounded over 100.
Speaking to The Daily Star over the phone, Rifaat Eid said: “I showed up for the interrogation session today with the investigative judge and with that we proved that we respect the Lebanese judiciary. We abide by the laws, and we emphasized this to Judge Abu Ghayda.”
“We didn’t show up before the military judge previously only because of the deteriorating security situation. When it became safer, we came,” he added.
Eid said he preferred not to comment when asked about the details of the interrogation, saying: “The issue is now in the hands of the Lebanese judiciary, and we respect its decisions.”
Abdullatif Saleh, media officer for the ADP, told The Daily Star that its party officials had no problem with “being present in front of the judiciary, especially when they are abiding by the rule of law.”
“But the real problem lies in Bab al-Tabbaneh and with the fundamentalists who are shooting at the residents of Jabal Mohsen and preventing them from checking on their shops and sources of income in the city of Tripoli,” he added.
Tripoli has seen relative calm and a return to normal daily life in recent days, although residents still fear that it is only a matter of time before clashes erupt again between the rival neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh.
Several shells exploded Monday night near the Nasri Mosque, in the neighborhood of Zaharieh and Bab al-Tabbaneh’s vegetable market.
The Army, along with the security forces, deployed units in the area and fired at the sources of the shelling and made efforts to contain the security situation, which has remained tense since armed men entered the Harba mausoleum Monday night and seized it from the Ahbash Association.
The association has been managing the building for several years.
The Army and security forces also increased patrols in all of the city’s neighborhoods Tuesday.