Lebanon radical cleric names Hezbollah MP as defence lawyer

Radical Islamist preacher Omar Bakri has appointed a Hezbollah legislator as his defence lawyer when he goes on trial.

Beirut: Radical Islamist preacher Omar
Bakri has appointed a Hezbollah legislator as his defence
lawyer when he goes on trial, a judicial source said today,
following his arrest in northern Lebanon.

"Omar Bakri has appointed Hezbollah deputy Nawwar
Sahili as his lawyer for the retrial," the date of which has
not yet been set, the source told a news agency.

Lebanese police on Sunday arrested Bakri at his home
in the northern port city of Tripoli, just three days after
the formerly Britain-based cleric boasted he would "not spend
one day" of a life sentence behind bars.

He now faces a retrial before a military court in line
with Lebanese law as he was sentenced in absentia.
Police said Bakri tried to flee in a car as the patrol
closed in on his house in Tripoli, prompting an officer to
open fire to prevent him from escaping.

Bakri, a Sunni Muslim fundamentalist, has appealed to
the leader of Shiite militant Hezbollah for help.

"I urge Hassan Nasrallah to look at the injustice
facing Omar Bakri who backs all resistance (movements) against
Israel," Hezbollah`s arch-foe, he said in an interview on
private television on Saturday.

Bakri, who has praised the September 11, 2001 attacks
on the United States and hailed the hijackers as the
"magnificent 19," was sentenced to life by a Lebanese military
court last Thursday.

The 50-year-old was found guilty -- along with more
than 40 other Lebanese, Palestinians, Syrians and Saudis -- of
"incitement to murder, theft and the possession of arms and
explosives."

The day after the sentence was handed down he vowed he
would not spend a single day behind bars. "I will not hand
myself in to any court. I do not believe in the law in Britain
as (or) in Lebanon," he told a news agency at his home.

Bakri failed to show up for sentencing last week and
said he had not been formally informed that the court would
issue a verdict, while insisting on his innocence.

The Syrian-born cleric, who also holds Lebanese
nationality, said he had no links to al Qaeda although he
believed in "the same ideology."

Bakri lived in Britain for almost 20 years before
being banned from returning there in 2005 under government
curbs following the London underground and bus bombings that
year.

PTI