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The New Arab

Lebanese judge tries defendants via WhatsApp, as coronavirus spreads, as coronavirus spreads

Hundreds have been tested positive for coronavirus in Lebanon [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 March, 2020

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A Lebanese court has for the first time in its history made a verdict in a court case through WhatsApp.

For the first time in Lebanon's history, a judge announced a verdict via messaging service WhatsApp in a measure to curb the spread of the potentially deadly coronavirus.

An investigative judge in the northern Lebanon released four detainees in Tripoli after carrying out a hearing via the online messaging platform.

Tripoli judge Jocelyn Matta said she listened to the defendants in the presence of their legal representative through WhatsApp video.

The defendants were spared prison and were fined instead.

The initiative that was carried out with the Syndicate of Tripoli and North Lawyer Mohammed Al-Mourad in an attempt to take distancing precautions as the coronavirus pandemic increases.

At least 206 people have been tested positive for the deadly virus.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest crisis to hit the country, already reeling from a financial meltdown and months of widespread public discontent.

Officials fear the local health system would struggle to cope if cases dramatically increase.

An estimated 900 million people are now confined to their homes in 35 countries around the world - two thirds by government lockdown orders, according to an AFP tally.

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