Military Court Seeks to Issue Final Verdict against Samaha to Thwart Case's Transfer

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The Military Court of Cassation will likely issue its final verdict against former Information Minister Michel Samaha on Thursday to stop the case's transfer to the Judicial Council, informed sources said.

Samaha appeared in court on January 21 and answered a series of questions on the transfer of explosives from Syria to Lebanon for the purpose of carrying out terrorist acts.

It was his first appearance since his release on bail from prison under a controversial Military Court ruling that drew condemnation from several politicians.

The ex-minister was arrested in August 2012 and charged with attempting to carry out "terrorist acts" over allegations that he and Syrian security services chief Ali Mamluk transported explosives and planned attacks and assassinations of political and religious figures in Lebanon.

Samaha was sentenced in May 2015 to four-and-half years in prison, but in June the Cassation Court nullified the verdict and ordered a retrial.

His release on bail prompted efforts by Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi to transfer the case to the Judicial Council.

The cabinet is expected to discuss the issue on Thursday upon a request submitted by Rifi.

The sources told al-Joumhouria daily that the Military Court of Cassation could issue its final verdict against Samaha ahead of a possible government decision to transfer the case to the Judicial Council.

The Council tries crimes which jeopardize state security.

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