BEIRUT: Legendary television producer Simon Asmar was released on bail Wednesday after spending nearly one year in prison over murder charges, a judicial source told The Daily Star.
The 71-year-old Asmar, who was released from the Batroun prison, was arrested in summer 2013 over the killing of a Syrian national.
He was initially detained in the Kesrouan town of Ghazir over outstanding debts. But during the probe, police discovered that Asmar had links to Syrian national Mohammad Ragheb Darwish who reportedly worked in his restaurant.
Darwish was found shot and stabbed to death on the outskirts of Shahtoul, another town in Kesrouan.
Police also investigated witness testimonies alleging that Asmar and Darwish were engaged in a sexual relationship, claims categorically denied at the time by Bachir Asmar, Simon’s son.
The Asmars could not be reached by The Daily Star for a comment on Wednesday.
A prominent director and producer, Asmar, is best known as the creator of the Middle East’s earliest talent shows Studio al-Fan (Art Studio).
Studio al-Fan launched the careers of countless Lebanese pop stars, including Majida al-Roumi, Ragheb Alama, Nawal Zoghby, Wael Kfoury and Assi al-Hellani, among others.
Asmar worked at prominent Lebanese television stations. He kicked off his career at the state-run Tele Liban and in 1985 thanks to good ties with late President Bashir Gemayel, he moved to LBCI, Lebanon’s first private sector TV channel. At the time LBCI was owned by Gemayel’s Lebanese Forces.
He left LBCI in the early 2000s and joined Murr TV after it re-launched in 2009.
Asmar produced several widely popular game shows throughout his career including Bab al-Haz (Gate of Luck), Laylet Haz (A Lucky Night), Ahla bi Hal Tali (You’re welcome).
Asmar’s collaboration with late charismatic TV presenter Riad Sharara has marked the history of Lebanese TV.