Families of Officers Held in al-Kweikhat Case Block Sarba Road Demanding Their Releaseإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The relatives of the officers detained in the case of Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahed and a number of army supporters on Monday blocked the Sarba-Jounieh road near an army barracks, declaring that they will not leave before the release of the generals.
The military examining magistrate issued on Saturday arrest warrants against three army officers, who were released last week, in the case of the killing of Abdul Wahed and his companion at an army checkpoint in the Akkar town of al-Kweikhat in May.
Judge Riyad Abu Ghida questioned the three officers and ordered their re-arrest, the National News Agency reported. The three officers were transferred back to the military police jail.
Their release on bail last week along with eight soldiers arrested over the case angered the residents of the district of Akkar where Sheikhs Abdul Wahed and Mohammed Merheb were killed.
Five other soldiers remain in custody.
Protestors blocked roads in Akkar and official figures, including al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Khaled al-Daher, called for referring the case to the Judicial Council.
Al-Daher even threatened civil disobedience, including sit-ins near the Grand Serail and Premier Najib Miqati’s residence, should the government keep the case in the hands of the military court.
The government sought to limit the growing unrest in the North and appease them on Monday by tasking Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi with asking General Prosecutor Said Mirza to directly supervise the investigations and report back to the cabinet.
In an interview with LBCI on Monday, Change and Reform bloc MP Naamtallah Abi Nasr said “the step of blocking the road in Sarba was expected because we have courts that issue rulings upon demand and this is something regrettable.”
“Do you want to shatter and fragment the military institutions and turn it into militias?” Abi Nasr added.
The lawmaker called for revising the decisions confidentially, stressing that “the judiciary must not be under the mercy of the street.”
Abi Nasr noted that “the road will not be reopened before the decision is reconsidered and before the politicians stop interfering in the judiciary’s work.”
Also speaking to LBCI, Mustaqbal bloc MP Khaled al-Daher said: “We have just demands and Sheikh Ahmed is a Muslim scholar … and he was executed.”
“We’re only demanding that those who opened fire be held accountable,” Daher added.
“Let no one claim that they support the army more than us and I hail from a town that offered 12 army martyrs in the face of terrorism,” Daher said.
The lawmaker held Brig. Gen. George Nader, commander of the airborne regiment, responsible for the Sarba protest, describing it as “shameful.”
Meanwhile, a protester on the scene said: “We will remain here as long as our soldiers are detained.”
“If the judiciary only understands the language of blocking roads, we will also block roads,” said another demonstrator.
Later on Monday, however, army units and security forces managed to reopen by force one of the lanes of the Sarba highway.
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told LBCI that “those who love the army must not block the road but must rather hire lawyers to defend the army.”
On July 9, the cabinet managed to reach a settlement over the case of Abdul Wahed and his companion.
It approved a decision by State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr to expand the investigations into the deadly incident under the supervision of State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza who will have to report to the government on the proceedings.