Activists protest outside the home of BLOM Bank’s chairman Saad Azhari over the refusal of the bank to refusal to drop charges against two activists detained in connection with a bank hostage situation
Activists on Wednesday evening protested in front of Blom Bank's chairman Saad Azhari's residence in Beirut, after the bank refused to drop charges against two activists that accompanied a female depositor who held bank employees at gunpoint earlier in the day and retrieved a sum of her savings. Unidentified armed people, believed to be Azhari's guards, reportedly fired live bullets toward the protesters.
Activist Roy Boukhari, who joined the protesters below Azhari's house on Wednesday, told L'Orient Today that unidentified armed individuals thought to be Azhari's guards, fired live bullets toward them while they protested their friends' detention and demanded their immediate release. Boukhari added that, following the assault, the protesters headed to Blom Bank in Sodeco, Beirut, and staged a sit-in ramping up pressure to release the two activists.
Reacting to these accusations, Blom Bank's press office said in a statement sent to L'Orient-Le Jour that Azhari "does not have bodyguards (neither armed nor unarmed)."
Activist and Hafez's lawyer Rami Ollaik told L'Orient Today that the two activists remain in custody Thursday morning, adding that old charges against at least one of them — other than the BLOM bank hostage-taking — have resurfaced. Ollaik, who is not representing the two activists, declined to give out further information on the matter.