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Assir Sentenced to Death Over Clashes with Lebanese Army | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this March 4, 2011, file photo, Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, a Lebanese anti-Syrian regime leader, addresses his supporters during a demonstration against Syrian President Bashar Assad. (AP photo/Hussein Malla,File)

Beirut- Lebanon’s permanent military tribunal sentenced hardline cleric Ahmad al-Assir to death and Lebanese retired singer Fadel Shaker to 15 years in prison in absentia ending the so-called case of the Abra clashes that erupted in 2013 in the southern city of Sidon between al-Assir’s supporters and the Lebanese Army.

The final sentence was announced hours after the court session ended and after all suspects were returned to prison.

Tens of sessions were held in the past two years before the military court issued its verdict concerning al-Assir.

The court also convicted 39 other suspects, some in absentia, for their part in clashes that erupted in the Abra neighborhood of Sidon.

When the court session began on Thursday morning, and after standing trial in front of Major General Hussein Abdullah, al-Assir refused to recognize the hearing and all its rulings. He also rejected his court-appointed lawyer during the trial and described the tribunal as “being controlled by Iran and therefore all verdicts issued by this court are completely politicized.”

Al-Assir’s lawyers had anticipated Thursday’s session by presenting an appeal before the UN asking the international body to intervene and stop the military tribunal from looking into the case due to the absence of justice.

The lawyers also presented a number of evidence that the military court had ignored.

The proofs were also attached with a videotape showing members of Hezbollah shooting at a Lebanese Army checkpoint from apartments they had rented in Abra, killing a number of soldiers and therefore igniting the Abra clashes.

Assir was detained at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport in August 2015 when he was trying to flee the country using a forged passport.

Lebanese military prosecutor had charged al-Assir with being involved in the 2013 clashes, demanding he faces the death penalty. The clashes resulted in the deaths of 18 army soldiers.

Lebanon has not carried out an execution for at least 10 years.

On Thursday, supporters of al-Assir gathered outside the court in Beirut chanting religious slogans while another protest was held at the same time by the families of soldiers who were killed during the clashes.