Lebanese judge charges 68 over deadly clashes south Beirut

A supporter of the Shiite Amal group fires in the air during the funeral processions of Hassan Jamil Nehmeh, who was killed during Thursday clashes, in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Dozens of gunmen opened fire in the air Friday south of Beirut during the funeral of persons killed in hours of gun battles between heavily armed gunmen the day before that left several people dead and terrorized the residents of Beirut. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein) (Bilal Hussein, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

BEIRUT – A Lebanese judge has charged 68 people in this month's deadly clashes in Beirut that left seven people dead and dozens wounded, the state news agency reported Monday.

The clashes in south Beirut on Oct. 14 was the worst fighting in the capital in years and broke out during a Hezbollah-organized protest against the judge leading the investigation into last year’s massive Beirut port blast.

The National News Agency said Judge Fadi Akiki, a government representative at the military court, charged the 68 people with crimes including murder, attempted murder, inciting sectarian strife, having unlicensed weapons and sabotage.

The battle went on for five hours between supporters of Lebanon’s two powerful Shiite factions, Hezbollah and Amal, and gunmen believed to be supporters of the Christian Lebanese Forces party. It took place on the line between Beirut’s Chiyah and Ain el-Rumaneh neighborhoods, the same frontline that bisected the capital into warring sections during the country’s civil war.

Also on Monday, Lebanon's military intelligence agency summoned the head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, to give testimony regarding the deadly clashes. He was asked to appear before military investigators on Wednesday.

Geagea has said that he refuses to be questioned by Akiki unless the judge first questions Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. It wasn't immediately clear if he will appear before investigators.

The NNA said 18 people are in detention while the remaining 50 remain at large. It did not give a breakdown showing to which groups the 68 belong.