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Lebanese Christian leader summoned for questioning over Beirut gunbattle

‘I am ready to appear before the judge, on one condition: that Hassan Nasrallah does it before me,’ says Samir Geagea, referring to Hezbollah’s leader

Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces party, enters a hall to meet with his senior party officials, on April 4, 2014, in Maarab, east Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces party, enters a hall to meet with his senior party officials, on April 4, 2014, in Maarab, east Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

BEIRUT — The head of the Lebanese Forces Christian group, Samir Geagea, has been summoned for questioning over deadly violence that erupted at a Shiite rally last week, a judicial official said Thursday.

Seven people were killed in Beirut on October 14 during a protest organized by Shiite groups Amal and Hezbollah to demand Tarek Bitar, the judge investigating Beirut’s powerful port blast, be removed.

Hezbollah and Amal accused the Lebanese Forces (LF), which supports the probe, of being responsible for sniper fire against the protesters that ignited street clashes.

The Christian group denies the charges.

Fadi Akiki, a representative of the military court, had “instructed the army intelligence to summon Geagea and take his statement based on information provided by arrested LF members,” the judicial official said.

Twenty-six people were arrested after the violence in the heart of the Lebanese capital, most of them LF members, the official said on Thursday.

The exact circumstances of the violence remain unclear.

A member of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group fires his gun during the funeral for some of their members who were killed during clashes in the Tayouneh neighborhood of the capital Beirut’s southern suburbs a day earlier, on October 15, 2021. (Ibrahim Amro/AFP)

Geagea has denied responsibility for the deaths, saying that residents of Beirut’s Christian neighborhood of Ain al-Remmaneh had “defended” themselves against “Hezbollah militiamen who tried to enter their homes.”

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday that his Iran-backed terror organization had 100,000 armed fighters at its disposal, and warned it is against sparking any “civil war.”

On Thursday, Geagea told the Lebanon’s MTV channel he was not aware of the summons.

“I am ready to appear before the judge, on one condition: that Hassan Nasrallah does it before me,” he said.

Nasrallah has been in hiding since the war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.

Tensions flared after Bitar summoned two Amal former ministers for questioning as part of the investigation into last year’s devastating Beirut port blast.

The explosion of a huge stockpile of poorly-stored fertilizer on the dockside on August 4, 2020 killed more than 210 people, wounded thousands and ravaged half the capital.

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