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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 May, 2005, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Beirut rally for warlord release
Christian supporters of ex-Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea
Geagea supporters say his conviction was political
Supporters of jailed Lebanese militia leader Samir Geagea have demonstrated in Beirut to press for his release.

At least 2,000 people waving Lebanese flags rallied near parliament in support of the civil war-era Lebanese Forces militia commander.

Geagea was imprisoned more than 10 years ago on charges of assassinating political rivals.

Supporters say he has been punished for opposing Syria's influence in its much weaker neighbour, Lebanon.

Meanwhile, some of the charges against another Christian military commander, Michel Aoun, have been dropped - days ahead of his planned return to Lebanon from exile in Paris.

A decision is due on Thursday on whether to drop the remaining charges - which relate to accusations Mr Aoun made against Syrian involvement in Lebanon.

Gen Aoun was charged in 1990 with attacking state security, national unity and the constitution, and with embezzlement.

A magistrate ruled on Wednesday that he was exempted from those charges by an amnesty law issued after the 1975-1990 civil war.

The moves came as Lebanon's President, Emile Lahoud, urged parliament to review the electoral law ahead of parliamentary elections due at the end of this month.

MPs have until Thursday to amend the current law, which some see as favouring pro-Syrian parties.


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