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Arsal mayor, son fail to show up before judge
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BEIRUT: Arsal Mayor Ali Hujeiri and his son Hussein failed to show up Monday before Investigative Military Judge Fadi Sawan, who is probing the incident that led to the killing of two Lebanese soldiers in the Bekaa Valley town earlier this month, judicial sources said.

Monday’s session was devoted to hearing the testimony of Arsal’s mayor as a witness and his son as a defendant after the latter was accused of involvement in the attack, the sources said.

The incident saw Islamist gunmen attack an Army patrol in Arsal, killing Capt. Pierre Bashaalani, 31, and Sgt. Ibrahim Zahraman, 32.

The Army patrol was attacked after taking part in an operation to arrest a fugitive Khaled Hmayyed, a resident of Arsal, who was killed during a clash.

Defense lawyer Tarek Shandab, representing the two Hujeiris, told Sawan that the mayor of Arsal did not attend because he was “threatened with arrest in accordance with an arrest warrant issued by Army intelligence,” the sources said.

He also presented a formal defense of the mayor’s son, saying that the defendant did not participate in the killing of the two soldiers but was helping in aiding the wounded soldiers.

Last week, Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr charged 34 people over the Arsal incident and demanded that the town’s mayor be summoned as a witness in the case.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 19, 2013, on page 4.
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