On the eve of the first anniversary of the deadly shooting of protesters in the Tayouneh neighborhood of Beirut by a US-backed militia, Lebanon’s Military Court of Cassation ratified the release of the last five detainees imprisoned for their role in the violence.
According to their families, the suspects were released between 12 and 13 October.
قبل يومين من الذكرى السنوية الأولى لأحداث #الطيونة التي سقط فيها سبع ضحايا، صدّقت محكمة التمييز العسكرية برئاسة القاضي صقر صقر قرار قاضي التحقيق العسكري الأوّل، فادي صوان، بإخلاء سبيل جميع الموقوفين الخمسة مقابل كفالة مالية قدرها خمسة ملايين ليرة لبنانية لكل واحد منهم.
— Legal Agenda (@Legal_Agenda) October 12, 2022
Despite arresting dozens of suspects in the weeks following the massacre – and charging the leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces (LF) party, Samir Geagea, for his involvement in the ambush – officials have failed to bring charges against anyone, and instead released all detainees, even those who admitted responsibility.
On the morning of 14 October 2021, militants allied with the Israel and Saudi-backed Lebanese Forces (LF) party opened fire on a peaceful demonstration by supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement.
The protesters were demanding the removal of judge Tarek Bitar, who was accused of politicizing the Beirut Port blast investigation.
The violence left seven people dead and dozens injured, with at least two of the unarmed civilians being shot by members of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
In the hours after the killings, the LAF was criticized for issuing two conflicting reports covering the day’s events, with the first stating in no uncertain terms that the protesters “were fired upon.”
However, after Army Commander General Joseph Aoun met with US Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland on 14 October – welcoming a donation of $67 million to “support” the LAF – the army changed their official statement, claiming the violence had erupted following a “dispute” after which an “exchange of fire” took place.
In the days after the shooting, a Lebanese security source told The Cradle that armed LF militants had been deployed in the streets adjacent to the Ain al-Rummaneh neighborhood since the early hours of the morning of 14 October, in preparation for the demonstration.
Arabic media reports revealed at the time that security officials were aware that the shooting “was not the result of isolated friction … but the result of security and military preparations that began the night before.”
According to the confessions of those detained in connection to the massacre, Geagea’s head of security, Simon Musallam, surveyed the area in Ain al-Rummaneh and Tayouneh the night before, bringing armed militia members from Maarab.
“The head of [the LF] is trying to create an imaginary enemy for our neighbors and to keep Christians worried about their presence,” the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said during a speech on 18 October of last year.
He went on to add that “the aim of creating this unease is to present [the LF] itself as the main defender of Christians [despite it being] the biggest threat to Christians in Lebanon and to the security of the Christian community.”