Monday's interrogation session of the main suspect in the Ansar quadruple femicide before the Beirut Criminal Court was marked by high tensions after an announcement postponing the trial until May.
Two relatives of the victims were briefly arrested after challenging this decision, according to L'Orient-Le Jour's reporter at the courthouse.
On March 25, 2022, the bodies of Bassima Abbas and her three daughters, aged 15 to 22, were found in a cave near the village of Ansar, in southern Lebanon.
A Lebanese man and his Syrian accomplice were arrested and, during a later interrogation, confessed to killing Abbas and her daughters.
According to the indictment, the two men are being tried for voluntary manslaughter— a crime punishable by death under Article 549 of the Penal Code. Monday's trial session at the Beirut Palace of Justice was short-lived.
"The session was scheduled to question the criminals. But the judge decided to postpone it until May to respond to a request from the suspect to appoint a psychiatrist," said Marianne Nakhleh, a lawyer representing Abbas's mother.
"The relatives of the victims protested against this decision. They did not understand the reasons for a postponement of several months, and the judge decided to put them under arrest," Nakhleh added.
The two relatives, Bassima's ex-husband and sister, were then quickly released, according to our reporter.
"They asked if they could not bring forward the new session and were arrested just because they criticized an order of justice," said Maher Jaber, a lawyer representing the three girls' father.
Lebanese law allows for capital punishment, but a moratorium on executions has been enforced since 2004. However, courts continue to hand down death sentences, and a national consensus is required to officially abolish it.
Reporting contributed by Caroline Hayek