The Court of Cassation in Lebanon on Thursday rejected complaints lodged by two former ministers against the judge in charge of the investigation into the explosion at the port of Beirut, which allows him to resume his investigations, a judicial source told the AFP.
Tareq Bitar was forced on Tuesday to suspend his investigation pending the verdict of this court, causing the most serious crisis in the Lebanese government since its formation last month.
The explosion on August 4, 2020 and caused by the storage without precautionary measures of huge quantities of ammonium nitrate left at least 214 dead, more than 6,500 injured and devastated several neighborhoods of the capital.
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Pointed out for criminal negligence, the authorities refuse any international investigation and are accused by the families of the victims and NGOs of torpedoing the local investigation.
Pro-Iranian Hezbollah and its allies demand that the examining magistrate be dismissed, accusing him of politicizing the investigation, while politicians refuse to be questioned by Tareq Bitar.
On Tuesday, Tareq Bitar issued an arrest warrant against MP and former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil, a member of the Shiite Amal movement, an ally of Hezbollah.
But he was immediately forced to suspend his investigation after new complaints filed by Ali Hassan Khalil and another deputy and ex-minister of Amal, Ghazi Zaayter, whom he wished to question.
Escape from the elites
The case nearly imploded a stormy meeting of Nagib Mikati's government, formed in September after a political stalemate for nearly a year, with ministers reporting to Hezbollah and Amal calling for the judge to be replaced. they are opposed by other members of the cabinet. On Thursday, the Court of Cassation rejected the new complaints, a judicial source told AFP, stressing that the Court "
did not have the authority to study the requests for the dismissal
" of the judge. At the same time, supporters of Hezbollah and Amal gathered in front of the courthouse for a demonstration to demand the replacement of Judge Bitar, at the same place where relatives of the victims of the explosion regularly gather to ask that theinvestigation succeeds.
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Since taking charge of the investigation, Tareq Bitar has summoned ex-Prime Minister Hassan Diab and four ex-ministers for indictment.
They never appeared before the judge, who also issued a first unenforced arrest warrant against a former Minister of Transport.
Judge Bitar resumed his work last week after an initial suspension of the investigation.
Some fear that he will meet the same fate as his predecessor, Fadi Sawan, who was dismissed in February after the indictment of senior officials.