A Lebanese court renews its refusal to remove the investigative judge in the port explosion


Beirut / Stephanie Rady / Anatolia

On Thursday, a Lebanese court rejected a new case against the judicial investigator in the case of the explosion of the port of the capital, Beirut, Tariq Al-Bitar.

The First Civil Chamber of the Civil Court of Cassation in Beirut, headed by Judge Naji Eid and the membership of Judges Rosen Ghantous and Lilian Saad, decided not to accept a request for a response (removal) of “Al-Bitar” submitted by MPs Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zuaiter, according to local media, including the newspaper. daytime.”

And last week, Khalil and Zuaiter, two deputies from the “Amal” movement, filed a lawsuit before this court, requesting that Al-Bitar be removed from the case, considering that he “violated the constitutional principles, and exceeded the powers of the House of Representatives and the Supreme Council to try the presidents and ministers,” which at the time led to the freezing of Investigation into the harbor explosion for the third time.

This decision was preceded by Al-Bitar issuing an arrest warrant for Khalil in the case of the explosion.

This was the third time that the investigation was suspended, and the first dates back to December 2020, when the former judicial investigator, Judge Fadi Sawan, suspended it for a period of 10 days, before being removed; Following judicial complaints submitted by MPs Khalil and Zuaiter.

As for the second time, it was in late September, after former Minister of Interior Nouhad al-Machnouk submitted a request to the Court of Appeal in Beirut to dismiss al-Bitar from the case.

Al-Machnouk, who is currently a parliamentarian, was accused by Al-Bitar, last July, in the case, and requested the lifting of his parliamentary immunity in preparation for his investigation.

On October 4, a court rejected Al-Machnouk’s request to dismiss Al-Bitar, allowing the judge to continue his investigations, before stopping for the third time.

There are fears in the Lebanese political circles that the investigation file into the port explosion may explode the political and governmental situation, in light of media reports that the judicial investigator is heading to accuse the “Hezbollah” group.

And on Monday, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah considered that the work of Investigator Al-Bitar, “involves political targeting and has nothing to do with justice.”

And on Wednesday, the Lebanese presidency announced the postponement of a cabinet session that was scheduled for the same day. While the presidency did not give a reason for the delay, an informed source told Anadolu Agency that it came after the Hezbollah and Amal ministers demanded to “discuss the circumstances surrounding the investigation into a port explosion, and take a position on this issue.”

On August 4, 2020, a massive explosion occurred in the port, killing 217 people and wounding about 7,000 others, as well as massive material damage to residential and commercial buildings.

According to preliminary official information, the explosion occurred in the 12 berth of the port, which the authorities say contained about 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which had been confiscated from a ship and stored since 2014.

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