BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati asked Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi Friday to look into the possibility of transferring the case of the Akkar sheikhs' killing to the Judicial Council, the country's highest judicial authority.
If Qortbawi recommends that the case be transferred to the Judicial Council, his proposal would have to be approved by the Cabinet in a vote before any such move is made.
According to Mikati's press office, Mikati also asked Akkar residents to remain calm and prevent "any attempts to exploit the situation in order to harm the precious district again."
Mikati’s comments come a day after the release of officers and soldiers detained following the killing of two anti-Bashar Assad sheikhs in Lebanon’s northern district of Akkar.
Three Lebanese Army officers and eight soldiers were released on bail Thursday while five soldiers remain in custody over the May killing. The officers and soldiers were detained for questioning after Sheikhs Ahmad Abdel-Wahed and Hussein al-Mereb were shot dead at an army checkpoint in Akkar on May 20.
The Lebanese Army took responsibility for the incident, and said it immediately formed a committee to investigate the deaths.
News of the release angered many Akkar residents who blocked roads in the northern district with sandbags, waste containers and rubber tires. Roads leading to Bireh, Dahr Halba, Kousha and Wadi Jamous have been blocked since late Thursday.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri criticized Friday the release of the detained soldiers said the Future Movement will work relentlessly to reveal the facts behind the incident.
“The prestige of the state cannot be attained by jumping over facts and via a selective application of the law but through application on the basis of facts,” Hariri said in a statement.
“We live today in the shadow of a government that overlooks the refusal to hand over those accused [of involvement] in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri ... Today they release officers and soldiers accused of killing the Sheikhs Abdel-Wahed and Mereb in Akkar,” he added.
In his statement, the head of the Future Movement also said that “state prestige” can only be attained by applying the law to any violator, vowing that his party will not remain silent with regard to [violations].
He also called on Akkar residents to adopt self-restraint and not resort to road-blocking.
“My promise to Akkar residents and every Lebanese calling for justice is that we will not neglect the job of uncovering the circumstances behind the murder of the two sheikhs and punish those responsible regardless of their posts,” Hariri said.