Lebanon military judge files charges against Assir and followers

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A file picture taken on 27 July 2012, shows Lebanese Salafi sheikh Ahmed al-Assir, left, holding the hand of Lebanese singer Fadel Shaker during a small concert where he sang Muslim hymns in the southern city of Sidon. (Photo: AFP - Mahmoud Zayyat)

Published Thursday, July 4, 2013

Charges were filed Thursday against 37 people involved in the two-day battle between the Lebanese army and followers of Salafi sheikh Ahmad al-Assir in Sidon, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.

Military court Judge Sakr Sakr filed a lawsuit against 27 people arrested in the aftermath of the fighting in Sidon. The lawsuit included 10 other people – including Assir and former pop star turned Salafi Fadel Shaker – who have been on the run since the army gained control of the neighborhood of Abra.

The 37 men are accused of forming a terrorist group, attacking Lebanese citizens and the army, and tampering with the principle of civil peace.

Sakr met with the detainees on Thursday morning, prior to filing the charges.

At least 38 people were killed in the Abra battle, including 18 Lebanese soldiers, after Assir supporters attacked an army checkpoint for having stopped a vehicle transporting other followers of the radical cleric.

The controversial Assir was virtually unknown until the beginning of the Syrian conflict, but gained prominence for his criticism of Hezbollah and its support for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

His whereabouts are currently unknown.



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