Lebanese Rally For Jailed Christian


Samir Geagea supporters rally in Beirut for his release.

Thousands of Lebanese rallied in Beirut demanding the release of Samir Geagea from prison where he has been held for 11 years.

Geagea has been in solitary confinement, spending most of the past 11 years in an underground cell at the Defense Ministry. He is the only prominent former warlord to be jailed for opposing Syrian dominance while other ex-militia leaders benefited from an amnesty for crimes committed during the civil war and went on to become lawmakers and Cabinet ministers.

Geagea, who led the Christian Lebanese Forces militia during the war, was arrested in April 1994 after a bombing at a church killed 10 people. He was acquitted of the bombing but convicted on other charges. He is serving three life sentences for the assassination of political rivals, including the bombing of a helicopter that killed then-Prime Minister Rashid Karami in 1987.

Geagea’s supporters long have considered him a political prisoner. The human rights group Amnesty International has called for the release or retrial of Geagea and fellow militiaman Jirjis al-Khoury. Amnesty said last year that their trial was unfair, a charge disputed by Lebanon’s government.

Meanwhile, the courts did clear another Anti-Syrian politician on Wednesday:

Lebanon’s most prominent anti-Syrian politician, Michel Aoun, was cleared in court Wednesday of crimes allegedly committed before his 1991 exile, freeing him of charges three days ahead of his planned return to a Lebanon free of Syrian forces.

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