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Families of Abra detainees protest again in Sidon

Relatives of Islamist detainees arrested last year for their alleged role in the Abra clashes, carry banners during a protest in Sidon, Friday, June 6, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: Families of the suspects in the attack on the Lebanese Army in Abra last year demonstrated Friday in front of Rawda Mosque in Sidon, calling for quick and fair trials for their sons.

The protest came one week after their last demonstration in front of the Zaatari Mosque that called for the same. Demonstrators held banners demanding local politicians make sure that the trials would be fair and not be postponed further.

The Military Court has assigned 15 July as the date of the trials.

Marching toward the Nejmeh square in Sidon, the demonstration caused traffic in the crowded city, which prompted the police to disband it on the Hussameddine Hariri roundabout.

The 40 detained men were arrested after an attack on Lebanese Army Forces by Sunni fundamentalist Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir’s militia in Sidon in June 2013.

Assir was the Imam of the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque in Abra, near which the clashes occurred, and a radical critic of Hezbollah’s policies.

The attacks resulted in the death of 18 Army soldiers and around 40 of Assir’s combatants.

The detainees went on hunger strike June 2, refusing food until they received a promise that the trials would commence soon, according to the National News Agency.

The Committee of Abra Detainees has released a statement calling first for an improvement in detainment conditions, and second for the release of Sheikhs Assem al-Arefi and Alaa al-Saleh.

The statement said that the two sheikhs were innocent and “had no role in the clashes.”

 

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