FPM Supporters Block Roads, March to Military Court to Demand Officers Releaseإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The Free Patriotic Movement led by MP Michel Aoun on Tuesday staged a demonstration that headed from Beirut’s Mathaf district towards the nearby Military Court building to demand the release of three officers held in connection with the case of Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahed and his companion.
Speeches stressed that the army was attacked “while performing its duties.”
Demonstrators carried army flags and banners expressing solidarity with the military institution.
Present at the rally were MPs Nabil Nicola and Naji Gharious, FPM secretary general Elie Khoury, FPM general coordinator Pierre Raffoul, FPM official Ziad Abs, artist Michel Elefteriades and a number of mothers of army martyrs who fell in the Nahr al-Bared war with the extremist group Fatah al-Islam.
“The responsibility for what happened with Sheikh Abdul Wahed falls on those who disassociated themselves from the northern border,” FPM general coordinator Raffoul said at the rally.
“It is unacceptable to make the army pay the price for negligence every time and it is not a scapegoat,” Raffoul added.
“Those who do not want the army do not want the Lebanon of peace and stability,” he warned.
Meanwhile, MTV quoted FPM sources as saying that “there is a systematic and intense plan to press again for the release of the officers in the coming days.”
Later on Tuesday, dozens of FPM supporters blocked the Nahr el-Mot highway in both directions with burning tires and metal barriers, voicing solidarity with the army.
Security forces managed later to convince the protesters to reopen the highway after its blocking caused a severe traffic jam.
Protesters also received a phone call from FPM leader MP Michel Aoun who asked them to reopen the highway to facilitate the passage of the convoy of President Michel Suleiman who inaugurated a new section at the nearby ABC Mall in Dbaye.
Several clashes were also recorded between the protesters and the passersby who were stranded in their vehicles.
Meanwhile, state-run National News Agency said FPM supporters blocked the al-Sayyad roundabout for around 10 minutes before the army managed to reopen it.
On Monday the relatives of the officers detained in the case of Sheikh Abdul Wahed and a number of army supporters blocked the Sarba-Jounieh road to demand 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.