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Lebanon: key activist in port investigation withdraws, possible intimidation

2021-10-16T13:57:53.877Z

The spokesperson for a group of relatives of the victims of the deadly explosion at the port of Beirut last year announced on Saturday his withdrawal from the group ...



The spokesperson for a group of relatives of the victims of the deadly explosion at the port of Beirut last year announced on Saturday his withdrawal from the group after broadcasting a video calling for the judge who is investigating this tragedy to be challenged, some evoking possible intimidation.

In a viral video that circulated Friday night on social networks, Ibrahim Hoteit calls on judge Tarek Bitar - at the heart of a smear campaign orchestrated for weeks by the Shiite Hezbollah movement - to recuse himself.

Read alsoLebanon again facing the specter of civil war

Powerful Hezbollah and its allies accuse the magistrate of "

politicizing

" the investigation.

Mr. Bitar has indicted senior officials, including two deputies from the Shiite Amal party, an ally of Hezbollah.

In the video, Mr. Hoteit appears reading a statement and peering out of view of the camera.

The video was released in the aftermath of bloody armed incidents that left seven dead in the Lebanese capital, including six Hezbollah and Amal operatives, during a protest demanding the departure of Mr. Bitar. *

Civil war

Questioned by AFP, Ibrahim Hoteit denied any "

pressure

" or "

intimidation

" at the origin of this video, claiming to have recorded it "

in a personal capacity

".

The only pressure I have been under are the incidents on Thursday and the fear of a slide into civil war.

So I decided to give up my role as spokesperson,

”he said.

But the broadcast of the video aroused astonishment and doubts on Saturday among other relatives of victims of the explosion of August 4, 2020 (more than 210 dead), raising suspicions of intimidation.

Read also Port of Beirut: the investigation still hampered

In a statement, the families of the victims of the explosion referred to an "

astonishing (...)

video

which does not represent us at all

", reiterating their support for Judge Bitar and deploring the political interference in the investigation.

"

Ibrahim was undoubtedly subjected to pressure,

" William Noun, brother of one of the firefighters killed in the tragedy, told AFP.

On social networks, several Internet users deplored the “

threats

” which would have been exerted by the tandem Hezbollah-Amal on Mr. Hoteit.

The investigation led by Judge Bitar has been at the heart of sharp tensions and divisions in Lebanon for several weeks.

This polarization degenerated into deadly violence Thursday referring to the dark years of the civil war (1975-1990).

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2021-10-16

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