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Wearing a blue shirt and surrounded by police officers, defendant Tarek Yateem stood in court Tuesday to hear the prosecution call on the judge to sentence him to death for stabbing George al-Reef to death in broad daylight in the summer of 2015 . However, the Criminal Court's sentencing hearing, chaired by Judge Hani Abdel-Moneim Hajjar, was marred by confusion and irresolution after Yateem's defense lawyer, Antoine Tobeyah, announced his decision to withdraw from the case without prior notice.Tobeyah told Hajjar his decision was prompted by a claim Justice Minister Salim Jreissati had interfered in the case.Tuesday's session was set to hear closing arguments in the case of Reef's death before a verdict was issued – but the bombshell laid down by Tobeyah derailed the hearing.Hajjar intervened to resettle the court.The closing arguments on the case were initially supposed to be presented during a court session held in May.The lawyer for the prosecution also said the court would now send a memo to the Beirut Bar Association to appoint a new lawyer for Yateem – a move Bitar said he considered illegal given that the court session had already begun and the prosecution's closing arguments had been made.
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