A military court has charged Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea over deadly clashes in Beirut last October, a judicial source said on Thursday, a move that could stoke political tension two months before an election.
An LF official in said the charge against him was political, and the investigation into the violence had been political from the start.
Judge Fadi Akiki told Al Jadeed TV he had charged Geagea two days ago based on "new information" relating to the Teyouneh events, a reference to Beirut's deadliest street violence in a decade. Reuters could not immediately reach Akiki for comment.
Seven people, all of them followers of Hezbollah and Amal Movement, were killed in the Oct. 14 clashes near an old frontline of the 1975-90 civil war.
Any attempt to arrest Geagea would likely be resisted by his party, creating the potential for trouble just two months before the parliamentary election, said Mohanad Hage Ali of the Carnegie Middle East Center.
Geagea was summoned to a hearing at military intelligence last October over the violence, but did not attend.
The Oct. 14 violence began as people were gathering for a protest called by Hezbollah against the judge investigating the 2020 Beirut port blast.
Hezbollah, which is heavily armed and backed by Iran, accused the LF of mounting an ambush and perpetrating the killing to try to drag the country to a civil war.
Geagea has strongly denied this, saying the trouble began when supporters of the Shiite parties entered the Christian neighborhood of Ain al-Remmaneh where they vandalized cars and four residents were wounded before a shot was fired.