BEIRUT/TRIPOLI: Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghaida requested the death penalty Friday for the fugitive Rifaat Ali Eid, head of the Arab Democratic Party’s politburo, and five fighters from Jabal Mohsen, Tripoli.
Judicial sources declined to name the other four suspects, all of whom are in custody, but added that three are considered militia leaders.
The five stand accused of killing, participating in clashes with Jabal Mohsen’s rival area, Bab al-Tabbaneh, terrorist acts, terrorizing the public, and destroying property.
Eid has been missing since earlier this year and is rumored to have fled the country through Syria after authorities sought to investigate links between the ADP and the bombing of two Tripoli mosques.
News of the indictment followed protests this week from local residents in the largely Alawite Jabal Mohsen and the predominantly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh, both of whom claim to have been unfairly targeted by a government crackdown on fighters in the northern city.
Security forces backed by armored vehicles deployed heavily in the northern city of Tripoli Friday, setting up checkpoints, and checking identities in the search for wanted suspects, as the Army raided Tripoli’s Government Hospital arresting one suspect, security sources said.
They said a suspect, only identified by his initials, was apprehended at the hospital, while a security check on papers and vehicles was conducted at road blocks erected in different parts of the city in search for others.
Earlier Friday, tensions ran high as residents in Jabal Mohsen blocked a road connecting their neighborhood to Bab al-Tabbaneh, demanding the release of detainees held for involvement in clashes.
Some 85 people gathered, calling on security and judicial authorities to release 60 detainees who were apprehended during the Army-led crackdown in the restive city.
The protest came a day after residents in the Bab al-Tabbaneh carried out a similar protest, blocking roads leading to the Abu Ali roundabout with rocks, trash cans and tires.
Three hunger-striking inmates from Roumieh prison were taken to hospital Thursday, as their supporters used tents, garbage bins and trucks to blockade roads at the Abu Ali roundabout and on the Maaloula-Minyeh route, threatening to escalate their action if detainees held over alleged involvement in the Tripoli clashes this year were not released.
This week, residents blocked several roads in north Lebanon following news that the health of a militia leader in Roumieh prison had deteriorated. Ziad Allouki, a former militia commander in Bab al-Tabbaneh, was transferred to Hayat Hospital after suffering fatigue.
Bab al-Tabbaneh residents have protested what they said were the arbitrary detentions targeting the Sunni community, saying security forces are discriminating against and treating them differently than their Alawite neighbors in Jabal Mohsen.
The Army, along with security forces, launched on April 1 a security plan to restore law and order to the city. The plan resulted in the arrest of dozens of gunmen and militia commanders from Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, and put an end to deadly clashes between the two.