Lebanon: Unfair trial of supporter of Syrian opposition, Shadi Al Mawlawi

On 12 May 2012, Shadi Al Mawlawi, a Lebanese national known to support the Syrian opposition as well as Syrian refugees in Lebanon, was arrested in Tripoli. The 25-year-old merchant of office furniture now faces a military trial based on terrorism charges. In view of the seemingly political motivation behind this persecution, Alkarama calls on the Lebanese authorities to respect Mr Al Mawlawi's right to a fair trial.

On 12 May 2012, Mr Al Mawlawi went to the Safadi Foundation's Centre for Social Services in Abdul Hamid Karameh Square in Tripoli as he had been asked to pick up medicine for his daughter. Upon arrival at the centre, he was arrested by plain-clothed agents of the General Security as can be seen in this video record of the centre's entrance:

Mr Al Mawlawi is the man wearing a green, white and dark-blue t-shirt who is escorted out of the building from 12:58:48 to 12:58:56.

In reaction to Mr Al Mawlawi's arrest, persons calling for his release took to the streets of Tripoli and fighting between different neighbourhoods erupted. Over the following days, these clashes caused at least 11 deaths, wounding over 70. Fears are that fighting will spread through the country, and the killing of a Sunni cleric and a person of his entourage last Sunday, 20 May 2012, indeed lead to armed clashes in Beirut at the beginning of this week.

Mr Al Mawlawi was brought before Military Judge Sakr Sakr at Beirut Military Court a first time on 13 May 2012. On this occasion, Mr Al Mawlawi and five other individuals apparently sympathising with the Syrian opposition movement were charged with 'belonging to a terrorist group' and committing acts in violation of articles 314 and 335 of the Lebanese Criminal Code as well as articles 5 and 6 of the Lebanese Anti-Terrorism Law, all relating to terrorist activities or membership in an illegal organisation.

The following day, on 14 May 2012, Mr Al Mawlawi was interrogated by Military Investigative Judge Nabil Wahbi. Upon request by the Ministry of Interior and Mr Al Mawlawi's lawyer, Mr Mohamed Hafizeh, this questioning was repeated on 17 May 2012, as Mr Al Mawlawi had been denied the assistance of his lawyer during the first interrogation session. Another day later, Military Judge Sakr Sakr refused a request for release on bail. That Friday, renewed demonstrations took place in Tripoli, which, this time, remained peaceful. On Tuesday, 22 May 2012, the request for release on bail was accepted but Mr Al Mawlawi's trial is still pending.

Mr Al Mawlawi's arrest seems to be related to his support of the Syrian opposition movement. The fact that he is accused of terrorist activities and that his case is examined by the Lebanese military jurisdiction even though he is a civilian shows the political motivation underlying his persecution.

Alkarama calls on the Lebanese authorities to ensure that Mr Al Mawlawi's right to fair legal proceedings be respected. This includes his right to be, as a civilian, tried before a civil court and not before a military court. In light of the above information, we informed the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention as well as other relevant UN human right mechanisms of Mr Al Mawlawi's situation.

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