Human Rights Watch Urges Probe into Alleged Death of Detainee under Tortureإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
A rights watchdog on Friday demanded a probe into alleged abuse of detainees after the deadly battle in the Sidon suburb of Abra between the army and supporters of Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir.
Human Rights Watch said there must be an independent investigation into claims the army is committing abuses against people suspected of links to the weekend clashes in which 18 soldiers died.
The fighting in Abra was among the worst in Lebanon since the outbreak of conflict in neighboring Syria 27 months ago deepened sectarian tensions.
It highlighted widespread Sunni resentment against the army, accused of siding with Hizbullah and being selective in its crackdown on armed groups.
Thousands of worshipers on Friday heard Sidon's top Sunni cleric accuse the army of making arrests "without due process."
"People are being taken to prison because they are religious or because they wear a beard or a full-face veil," Sheikh Salim Sousan said during Friday prayers in the southern city.
"They are being beaten badly, and maybe even dying," he charged.
A security source said dozens of people have been arrested since the army seized Asir's Abra headquarters on Monday.
Sidon residents claim the bodies of those killed have not been given to their families.
"It is Sidon's right to know how many people were killed, and to know their names. It is Sidon's right to know how many wounded there are, and their whereabouts," said Sousan.
He called for an "independent, objective, transparent... investigation" into abuse claims.
Human Rights Watch called for an independent judicial investigation into alleged abuses.
On Thursday, the army handed over to the military police soldiers suspected of humiliating and beating a man suspected of ties to Asir.
"It's not enough to have the military investigating itself," HRW Beirut office director Nadim Houry told Agence France Presse.
The army was not immediately reachable, but on Thursday a military source told AFP: "We do not accept this kind of behavior."
Sunni clerics, meanwhile, distributed images via Facebook of a body bearing marks of a severe beating.
The body was identified as Nader al-Bayoumy, whom the Association of Muslim Scholars said had "handed himself in" after the Abra clash.
Houry said his family insisted Bayoumy was alive after the fighting, but they later received a call to say his body was at the military hospital in Beirut.