Al-Asir Sentenced to Death, Shaker Gets 15 Years' Hard Labor

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Firebrand Islamist cleric Ahmed al-Asir was on Thursday sentenced to death in the case of the 2013 Abra clashes as pop star-turned-Islamist militant Fadel Shaker was sentenced in absentia to 15 years of hard labor.

The court also sentenced to death two other defendants and five Islamists who remain at large, including the cleric's brother Amjad.

Capital punishment is legal in Lebanon, but there has been an effective moratorium in place since 2004, without any executions carried out despite judgements to that effect.

Singer-turned-militant Fadel Shaker, who was tried in absentia, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, while another 30 defendants were handed life sentences.

Al-Jadeed televisions said families of detainees blocked the al-Nejmeh Square road in the southern city of Sidon after the verdicts were announced.

Tight security measures had been taken around the Military Court in Beirut during the trial session.

As he appeared before the court, Asir “refused to recognize the court and its rulings" and said it was "subject to Iranian hegemony,” NNA said.

He also refused to recognize a military lawyer appointed by the court.

Before the trial, lawyers of Asir told MTV: “We will not enter the court hall because of the court's previous decision,” they said.

A September 12 session had witnessed a heated debate pitting Asir's lawyers against the court's president, Brig. Gen. Hussein Abdullah, and Assistant State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Hani al-Hajjar.

The debate erupted after the court rejected the lawyers' request for hearing the testimonies of former president Michel Suleiman, ex-PM Najib Miqati, former army chief General Jean Qahwaji and a number of ministers and security chiefs.

Asir's lawyers withdrew from that session after the request was rejected, which prompted the court president to bar them from future trial sessions.

Describing the lawyers' demands as “infeasible,” Abdullah said: “This is a judicial and not a political trial... The defense lawyers' approach reflects a will to obstruct the trial.”

Asir hit back during that session.

“I'm not facing a fair trial. Had it been fair, the court would have heeded our requests for unveiling those who fired the first bullet and identifying those who should have been here instead of me,” Asir said.

Asir claims Hizbullah fighters played a role in the deadly 2013 clashes that erupted in the Sidon suburb of Abra between his group and the army.

The Islamic cleric was detained at Beirut's airport in 2015 as he tried to flee the country using a fake Palestinian passport.

The firebrand anti-Hizbullah cleric had been on the run since the 2013 clashes. The fighting killed 18 Lebanese soldiers and a number of his supporters.

The army seized his headquarters after 48 hours of clashes, but Asir was able to escape with several of his followers.

In 2014, a military judge recommended prosecutors seek death sentences for Asir and 53 others, including pop star-turned-Islamist militant Fadel Shaker.

Asir was a virtual political unknown until the outbreak of Syria's civil war.

He began making headlines after the conflict erupted by criticizing Hizbullah and its ally Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Although he was born to a Shiite Muslim mother, his discourse was highly sectarian and he often accused Lebanon's army of failing to protect Sunnis and being beholden to Hizbullah.

He encouraged his supporters to join Syria's mainly Sunni rebels and to rise up against Hizbullah.

Asir also hit headlines with media stunts, including by taking a group of his followers to the trendy winter ski resort of Faraya in early 2013.

Comments 5
Thumb Mystic 28 September 2017, 19:38

About time your beloved Sheikh got executed.

Thumb abe_Lincolnstein 28 September 2017, 20:01

I don't think they heard you Misty, the buses that Hassin Al-Jardunu sent them to comfortably get away with murder are the latest state of the art models, with air conditioning and sound proofing.

Thumb 28 September 2017, 23:05

boredpanda / -_-Moeten-_- flap my wingz, stop harassing Onions and other Naharnet contributors.

Thumb gigahabib 29 September 2017, 01:32

Aww, seems the Naharnet-Saudis just lost their idols.

Thumb gigahabib 29 September 2017, 09:31

You Mustaqbaloids were always fans of Assir, you just tried to hide it after he went rogue. We remember the fawning praise he got here during his "sit ins".

And how many times have the US let ISIS retreat?