An altercation between a 55-year-old man and a group of Hizbullah and Amal Movement protesters was the trigger that started the deadly Ain al-Remmaneh-Tayyouneh clashes on October 14, a media report said Friday, citing a video and a witness’ testimony included in the probe of the army’s Intelligence Directorate.
The leaks, published by the al-Akhbar newspaper, identify the man as Gilbert Marasidian. The man told interrogators that he had resigned from the Lebanese Forces 30 years ago.
“The latter appears heading alone and angrily toward the protesters who were passing on the main road on their way to the Justice Palace. Insults and a verbal clash ensue, before a large number of protesters enter into the street where they beat him up severely and knock him down,” al-Akhbar reported, citing the probe’s video.
“That was followed by acts of rioting and vandalism before the situation escalated into a direct clash with LF groups deployed at the Frères intersection under the supervision of Maarab security officer Simon Mousallem, who according to the probe’s records had moved to Ain al-Remmaneh along with dozens of people on the night that preceded the massacre,” the daily added, noting that Mousallem “inspected the area along with (the LF’s) military official in Ain al-Remmaneh, Elias Nakhle.”
A witness identified as Pierre R. whose house overlooks the site where the clashes first erupted meanwhile told interrogators that he first heard protesters chanting slogans supportive of Speaker Nabih Berri and slamming LF leader Samir Geagea as a “Zionist.”
“When the demo reached the intersection leading from the Sami al-Solh Street to my house, I saw a person who is around 50 years old, whom I know to be a resident of the neighborhood, approaching the demo. He seemed dismayed and annoyed by the slogans he was hearing,” the witness says.
“Minutes later, a group from the demo stopped and started exchanging insults with that person and the matter escalated into a fistfight. Protesters from the demo later entered from Sami al-Solh al-Street into the street leading to Ain al-Remmaneh and I started seeing them smashing cars and burning a motorcycle. Protesters and individuals from the side of Ain al-Remmaneh then started hurling stones at each other before army troops intervened to separate between the two sides,” the witness adds.
Noting that he did not see anyone carrying a gun or a rifle, the witness notes that his balcony was hit by two gunshots and that the first “came from Badaro’s side near the Mersaco company building.”
Marasidian for his part tells interrogators that some protesters suddenly stopped and exchanged insults with a number of “LF supporters and Ain al-Remmaneh residents some of whom were carrying sticks.”
“The insults were against the LF leader before turning sectarian, after which some protesters entered into the street and started beating up the young men coming from inside Ain al-Remmaneh,” Marasidian adds, noting that he was assaulted and that some protesters were carrying handguns on their bodies.
“The group gathered near the Our Lady of Lourdes monument started shouting partisan and sectarian slogans in response to the protesters’ chants, which provoked the protesters who entered into the street and started their attacks,” Marasidian went on to say.