Image Credit: Reuters

Geagea summoned to testify on Tayouneh clashes

Investigative Judge Fadi Sawwan has summoned Lebanese Forces party leader Samir Geagea to testify in front of military intelligence on the deadly clashes that occurred in the Tayouneh area earlier this month.

During the clashes, gunmen from the Lebanese Forces party got into a conflict with Hezbollah and Amal Movement supporters at a protest facing the Beirut Justice Palace for the removal of Beirut Blast Judge Tarek Bitar. Both parties were engaged in rounds of gunfire for hours, leading to the death of at least seven people, while 30 others were wounded.

Many citizens likened the events to the violence of the 1975 – 1990 civil war.

The army’s General Intelligence Directorate launched an investigation into the issue, which was concluded on Saturday before being transferred to the Military Court. State Comissioner to the Military Court Judge Fadi Akiki filed charges of murder, attempted murder, inciting sectarian strige, incitment, possession of unlicensed military weapons and destruction of private and public property against 68 people on Monday. Eighteen of these people were already arrested in connection to the clashes.

While Geagea is known to be a political adversary of Hezbollah and Amal, he has repeatedly denied his party’s involvement in the clashes. In spite of this, he said in a televised interview that he would be willing to give his testimony to the military court, under the conditon that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah also give his.

In a televised speech, Nasrallah accused Geagea of trying to start a civil war, saying the party leader has no problem “causing events that lead to bloodshed.” Nasrallah also threatened Geagea that this would be a grave mistake, as Hezbollah has 100,000 soldiers preapred and ready to engage in conflict. 

Geagea is scheduled to appear at the Defence Ministry on Wednesday morning.