07/18/2005, 00.00
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Lebanon's parliament votes for Geagea's release

by Youssef Hourani
The former leader of the Lebanese Forces has been in jail for 11 years. Maronite bishops had also called for his release as a sign of national reconciliation.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Lebanon's parliament passed an amnesty law to free Samir Geagea, former leader of the Lebanese Forces who has been in jail for 11 years. The law was approved by a margin of more than 100 votes.

Mr Geagea could go free in the next few days. His family is already preparing to welcome him home.

Last night, Geagea's wife Setrida met Druze leader Walid Jumblatt to discuss the parliamentary vote.

In a statement to the press, she called on her husband's supporters to respect law and order whilst celebrating his release.

Lebanon's Maronite bishops had repeatedly called for Geagea's liberation—the last one was made on May 4.

Samir Geagea, 52, is in jail for various assassinations he is said to have carried out during the country's 15 years civil war (1975-1990), including the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rachid Karame in 1987 and Christian leader Dany Chamoun in 1990. He was also tried for an attack against the Church of Notre Dame-de-la-Delivrance in 1994.

Many Lebanese politicians consider Geagea—the only Lebanese militia leader sentenced for crimes committed during the civil war—the victim of  Syrian machinations.

Because of his anti-Syrian stance, he was hailed as a hero during recent anti-Syrian demonstrations.

After the assassination of Rafik Hariri, demonstrators who called for Syria's pullout also carried Lebanese flags and portraits of Geagea, Hariri and Michel Aoun.

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See also
Bishops act to end divisions between Maronite political leaders
Family thanks Cardinal Sfeir for helping in Samir Geagea's release
Geagea in Paris for medical check-up and sightseeing
Sfeir brings concerns about his country’s future to the Vatican
Maronite bishops urge Christian leaders to reconcile


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