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Williams: Too many Roumieh inmates have not been tried

The large number of inmates held in Roumieh Prison without trial is “far too high a figure and does not reflect well on Lebanon and its principles,” United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said on Monday.

“A top priority of the incoming government, I believe, must be to address these concerns,” he said after a meeting with Interior Minister Ziad Baroud, according to a statement from the former’s office.

Baroud “shares with me the concern that 70 percent of the prisoners had not been tried,” Williams said.

“We discussed the need for urgent reforms and I told the Minister that the United Nations was ready to assist if requested and when possible in this regard.”

Williams also said that security incidents like recent protests at Roumieh and the March abduction of Estonian cyclists “underline the pressing need for the formation of a government in Lebanon.”

“I believe that this should be the top priority for all politicians in the country in the coming weeks and I hope it is not more than weeks before a new government is formed.”

Inmates in Roumieh Prison and their families have protested in recent weeks, demanding an improvement in prison conditions and the expediting of their trials.

Lebanese authorities have been searching for seven Estonians since they were abducted at gunpoint in the eastern Bekaa town of Zahle on March 23 after entering Lebanon through Syria on their bicycles.

Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati was appointed in January and is currently working to form his cabinet.

-NOW Lebanon

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