BEIRUT: The families of those arrested during the violence in Tayouneh on October 14, as well as the families of those arrested in the Khalde incident in early August, protest against what they claim to be “biased actions” judicial authorities.
In recent days, families have reacted angrily to the lack of arrests of anyone associated with Hezbollah over either incident, “although the party and its gunmen were clearly implicated in both. “.
Families wonder if the Lebanese military justice turns a blind eye to those implicated in the violence, or if the institution has been shaken by the pressure exerted by Hezbollah on all aspects of the state.
Clashes erupted in Khalde, south of Beirut, between members of Hezbollah and residents affiliated with Arab tribes known as “Khalde Arabs” during the funeral of Hezbollah official Ali Shibli. Two people died and several civilians were injured as a result.
The first acting military investigating judge, Judge Fadi Sawan, issued an indictment for the Khalde incident two days ago, referring 32 defendants, including 23 detainees of Arabs from Khalde, to the military court for judgment.
However, he ignored any Hezbollah affiliates involved in the clashes.
Sawan called for the accused to be tried for “forming an armed group with intent to commit crimes against persons, murders, attempted murders, incitement to sectarian conflicts, vandalism and the use of ‘unlicensed weapons of war’.
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said what happened in Khalde was “an attempted murder, this massacre was committed by a gang”.
He demanded that “all those involved, whose faces and names are well known, be held accountable.”
The families reacted strongly to Nasrallah’s account, asking him to “double-check his sources before slandering the Arab tribes”.
Families of those arrested in the Khalde incident blocked the Khalde highway on Friday in protest against “focusing only on the tribes and leaving Hezbollah out of this”.
They expressed their anger at the biased actions of the military court, because “21 young men from Khalde have not yet been released, while no Hezbollah affiliates, whose names and addresses are known to the security services, have not been released. has been arrested again ”.
Future Movement MP Rola Al-Tabash said, “Arab tribes will not be a scapegoat. Why weren’t the gunmen who attacked the tribes in their homes arrested? “
He added: “The judiciary has stood against the oppressed, and with the armed oppressor, right under the nose of the state.
Meanwhile, no indictment has yet been issued regarding the Tayouneh incident, which left seven dead and 32 injured.
The detainee defense team, most of whom are affiliated with the Lebanese Forces, lodged a complaint with the military prosecution which includes “photos and videos documenting the armed individuals who participated in the clashes but were not summoned to investigate. interrogation ”.
However, the military prosecution “did not rule on the complaint”, according to the defense team, “and none of the individuals mentioned were summoned, and they are members of the Resistance Brigades, a faction affiliated with Hezbollah” .
Following the Tayouneh incident, Nasrallah publicly accused the Lebanese Forces of having started the clashes and demanded that the party leadership be held to account.
As a result, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea was summoned to testify before the intelligence services of the Lebanese army, but he did not comply.
The families of the detainees demonstrated in front of the military court. Antoine Saad, lawyer representing the detainees, said: “Ain Al-Remmaneh will not be a scapegoat. “
The lawyer added, “The judge is not treating all parties involved in the incident fairly. What has been announced about the investigations contradicts what happened in reality.
The former head of the Shura State Council, Judge Shukri Sader, told Arab News: “Many have complained about the military tribunal which is handling the cases of the Tayouneh and Khalde incidents. It is believed to be an island that functions on its own and that the Supreme Judicial Council has no control over it. Is it permissible to judge the victim and exclude the perpetrators?
He added: “The justice system in Lebanon is a mess; the parties and the legislative and executive authorities are still putting pressure on it. What is happening in the explosion probe at the port of Beirut is proof of this. “
Sader said the forensic investigator “was prevented from questioning the defendants, especially politicians and security officials. Many have tried to remove him from the case and illegally take over the confidential investigations. “
Sader noted: “It is clear that many are trying to influence and put pressure on military justice.
“To prevent this from happening, the powers of military justice must be limited to judging only the military.
“Using the pretext of ‘terrorist acts’ is an abuse. The Tayouneh and Khalde incidents were not acts of terrorism, but a group of thugs roaming the streets, which is the product of warlords controlling the state.
“These people don’t want the rule of law, but rather a farm; a farm that has infiltrated justice.
Former minister Ahmed Fatfat said he was not surprised that military justice is avoiding arresting Hezbollah militants.
“Hezbollah has taken all state institutions, including military justice, hostage, and is also trying to seize civil justice. But the civilian judges are speaking, namely Judge Tarek Bitar, who is leading the investigation into the explosion in the port of Beirut, ”he told Arab News.
Fatfat added: “This has been happening for a long time. Have we forgotten the pilot officer, Samer Hanna, who was killed in 2008 as his helicopter flew over an area where Hezbollah was stationed in Sejoud? At the time, Hezbollah sent a disabled man in his hand to the military tribunal and said he was the one who shot down the helicopter.
“This man later admitted that he was legally mandated by Hezbollah to say he had done so. The case was immediately closed, and Hezbollah was never held responsible. “
He noted: “Some Lebanese parties refuse to admit that Lebanon is under Iranian occupation.
“As long as these parties cover Hezbollah by sharing power, nothing will change. Hezbollah controls the country, but it does not bear responsibility for it.
“People criticize the government and the president and fail to realize that Hezbollah is the source of the crisis. “
Fatfat stressed: “We should let Hezbollah rule alone and bear the responsibility.
“We should all join the political opposition against this and only then will Hezbollah’s true colors be revealed.
“I don’t know why the Free Patriotic Movement and even Prime Minister Najib Mikati are clinging to power.
“Why? I don’t think they fear another vacuum because the government is already upset by a Hezbollah decision.