BEIRUT — Depositors' rights groups The Depositors' Cry and United (Mouttahidoun) on Sunday protested in Downtown Beirut before moving to other locations to demand the release of two depositors and their two accomplices, one of whom is lawyer Rami Olleik, who were arrested after holding up a bank in Hazmieh last Wednesday.
According to the state-run National News Agency, the protest started in Downtown Beirut before the demonstrators moved on to hold sit-ins in front of the houses of caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami, former MP Nicholas Nahas (affiliated with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati) and Joseph Torbey, chairman and general manager of Crédit Libanais bank, a branch of which the depositors held up last week.
A spokesperson for The Depositors' Cry told L'Orient Today on Monday that activist and lawyer Rami Ollaik, who is involved with both groups, and who accompanied of the two depositors, is now holding a hunger strike and is in bad health but has not yet been hospitalized.
The spokesperson also said that the $56,000 that the depositors managed to withdraw on Wednesday is with the depositors' lawyer and that he expects the four individuals to be released this week, adding that he thinks "judges would express solidarity with their case." The spokesperson also said that Crédit Libanais bank filed a lawsuit against Ollaik following the incident.
On Wednesday, four people, including two depositors, one of whom was armed, accompanied by journalists, infiltrated Crédit Libanais' Hazmieh branch to demand the return of the two depositors' funds. Despite succeeding in withdrawing $56,000, the four individuals spent all night at the bank engaged in negotiations between them and security forces, and were eventually arrested at dawn the following day.
Banks have placed de facto capital controls on most people's deposits since the onset of a financial crisis in the country in 2019. The imposition of these restrictions on access to deposits has in recent months led to a spate of bank holdups by depositors, some armed and some unarmed, demanding the return of their savings.