Lebanese PM demands retrial for former minister charged with ‘terrorism’

Published January 15th, 2016 - 02:30 GMT

Prime Minister Tammam Salam Friday demanded a speedy retrial for former Information Minister Michel Samaha because of the "delicate" nature of the case, a day after angry protesters blocked roads across Beirut over Samaha's release on bail.

“I look forward, like all Lebanese, to have a judicial authority that only bows to the power of right and works to serve justice and implements laws to protect the individual and society,” Salam said in a statement after meeting with General Prosecutor Samir Hammoud, who is also the deputy head of the Higher Judicial Council.

Hammoud briefed the premier during their meeting on the Military Court's decision Thursday to grant bail to Samaha, who was convicted last year on terrorism charges and sentenced to four and a half years in jail.

However, the verdict was annulled after March 14 officials protested what they considered a light sentence, paving the way for a retrial.

“It’s a case linked to the national security of a country that is still engaged in a battle with various forms of terrorism that target its stability, social fabric and democratic principles,” Salam said.

The decision to release Samaha outraged March 14 officials and their supporters, who blocked roads across Beirut, its suburbs, and some parts of the north Thursday. More protests are planned for Friday.

The court unanimously agreed to the request to release Samaha on LL150 million ($99,463) bail on the condition he will not leave the country or speak to the media pending a verdict on his retrial.

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