Black-shirted plainclothesmen ruthlessly beat up protesters against the massive opposition arrests Thursday. They also roughed up army troops and police when they attempted to stop the beatings, witnesses told Naharnet.
The scuffles flared around the Justice palace for three hours in central Beirut before troops and red-bereted Lebanese riot police managed to smuggle out the protestors away from the savage black-shirts, said the witnesses. (See more details in story below).
The clash came as authorities fine-tuned their charges against opposition detainees to stop a snowballing uproar over Lebanon’s alleged drift to an army-ruled police state.
Interior Minister Elias Murr said Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces and Gen. Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement have been conspiring to partition Lebanon into sectarian federal states, wagering on a scene-setting Israeli military strike.
This scenario has shaped up from army investigations, which also showed that both the LF and the FPM were scheming to fragmentize the nation’s fighting machine to coordinate with the hoped-for Israeli blow to enforce the partition.
Murr’s accusations were a far cry from the original charges by the army command that the FPM and the LF were plotting to ignite another civil war.
Several parliament members shrugged off all charges as a poor attempt by the regime to justify the ‘huge blunder’ of staging the biggest wave mass arrests since the 1975-1990 civil war without legal grounds.
In a hurriedly arranged news conference, the legislators disputed Murr’s contention that the military clampdown was under the ceiling of the law because Prosecutor-General Adnan Addoum had signed the arrest warrants.
The protesting legislators charged separately that the arrests were evidence that the army’s intelligence branch was scheming to oust Premier Hariri’s government and install a military junta in power.
The army expanded the scope of the arrests Wednesday to include 10 activists of Dory Chamoun’s National Liberal Party who were distributing NLP leaflets pronouncing freedom in Lebanon dead.
The Beirut military court on Wednesday began the trails of the detained FPM and LF activists. Ten Aounists were given jail terms ranging from five days to 45 days and eight were acquitted and set free.