Lebanese judge seeks death penalty for Ahmad al-Assir


Lebanon will seek the death penalty for Salafi cleric Ahmad al-Assir, who has been at large since deadly clashes between his followers and the army last year, a judicial source said Friday.

Military judge Riad Abu Ghida recommended seeking death sentences for Assir and 53 others, including singer-turned-fundamentalist Fadel Shaker.

The sentences are being sought in connection with the summer clashes in the southern city of Saida, which left at least 18 soldiers and 11 gunmen dead.

The suspects are accused of “having formed armed groups that attacked an institution of the state, the army, killed officers and soldiers, took explosive materials and light and heavy weapons and used them against the army,” the indictment says.

The judicial source said Abu Ghida, the investigator responsible for recommending charges and penalties, has also recommended prison sentences for around 20 other people.

Assir and a number of his supporters, including Shaker, have been on the run since the clashes in June.

The cleric gained notoriety for his fierce opposition to Hezbollah.

Since becoming a fugitive, Assir has released a number of audio recordings and several tweets renewing his criticism of Hezbollah and its ally Iran.

He has also accused the Lebanese army of failing to protect the country’s Sunnis.