A statement attributed to Justice Minister Bahij Tabbara about a “chance” for a retrial of jailed Lebanese Forces commander Samir Geagea has fueled speculation that the plight of Lebanon’s longest-held political prisoner may come to an end in the foreseeable future.
Tabbara has been quoted by the Akhbar Al Youm local news service as saying that Geagea “could benefit from a chance for a retrial,” which attracted comments from National Liberal Party Leader Dory Chamoun, internationally renowned attorney at law Shibli Mallat and Dr. Edmond Naim, who headed Geagea’s defense team during his trials in the late 1990s.
Mallat noted that Geagea was arrested in 1994 and tried afterwards on a charge of engineering the bombing of a Maronite church near Jounieh in which 10 people were killed, An Nahar reported on Saturday.
“When he was acquitted in this case, Geagea was tried anew on a charge of involvement in the murder of former NLP leader Dany Chamoun, a crime that had been covered by the general amnesty for civil war-related crimes,” Mallat said. “This sequence may open a way for a retrial.”
Dory Chamoun, Dany’s elder brother who now heads the NLP, said he would not object to a Geagea retrial “since the justice minister saw there is such a possibility.” Chamoun urged Geagea to ask his defense team to seek a retrial.
But Dr. Naim, a most prestigious jurist in Lebanon, sounded skeptical. “What minister Tabbara is saying is mere philosophy,” Naim said, evading a comment on the legality of the issue, according to An Nahar.