Lebanese former prime minister Hassan Diab is among the high-profile figures summoned for the blast investigation.
According to a notice to appear acquired by reporters, the judge looking into the Beirut port blast has accused Lebanon’s then-pm Hassan Diab and two of the ex-ministers with murder with potential purpose.
According to court authorities, more high officials, including the nation’s prosecutor’s office and the director of the internal intelligence agency, have also been prosecuted in relation with the explosion.
Judge Tarek Bitar has arranged a meeting with Prosecutor General Ghassan Oweidat for the coming month. It occurs after abruptly resuming an investigation that had been halted by a political opposition at high level.
The suspect’s brother, Pierre Gemayel, says he was both astonished and pleased by Bitar’s action. Gemayel says they finally have a glimmer of optimism that something is happening because the inquiry has been stalled for over a year.
Bitar has struggled to question top authorities about the explosion because of the opposition from multiple groups. The 2020 blast left at least 218 dead and severely damaged areas of Lebanese capital,
According to judicial sources, Bitar has prosecuted former army chief Jean Kahwaji, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, the director of Lebanese internal intelligence agency, Major General Tony Saliba, the leader of another security organisation, and Jean Kahwaji in relation to the explosion.
The general prosecutor’s team has contested Bitar’s legitimacy to bring the allegations, though. Some of Bitar’s conclusions might not be carried out, according to experts, since there are conflicting views inside the judiciary over whether Bitar was permitted to continue his investigation.
According to judicial sources, 15 persons, including the senior security personnel, Oweidat, two former cabinet members, and former Prime Minister Diab, would be questioned in February.
Bitar Vis-à-vis Diab
According to Aya Majzoub of Amnesty International, the public prosecutor’s move is just another example of how Lebanon’s political elite has banded together to obstruct the enforcement of justice in the case of the Beirut explosion.
She says, “We have not seen government or court personnel interact in serious way with legal points Bitar has presented, thereby obstructing the continuation of probe.”
Everyone Bitar has previously accused of impropriety has refuted it. Several tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been discharged in 2013 and kept at the port in subpar circumstances until the explosion in August, 2020, were to blame. No top executive has been held accountable thus far.
Bitar encountered French judges this week in Lebanon as part of a French probe into the incident, which claimed the lives of two French citizens. The probe was shut down, therefore he was unable to provide them access to any records.
Numerous legal challenges were filed by politicians Bitar wanted to examine, arguing that he had no right to interrogate them and had infringed his authority.
Early in 2022, the inquiry came to a halt due to the withdrawal of judges from a court that had to deliberate on numerous of these charges made against Bitar before he could proceed.
Officials should have appointed new justices by now so that the court may begin its work. According to the judicial authorities, Bitar returned to work based on a legal analysis that disputed the justifications for his suspension.
However, the public prosecutor’s office informed Bitar yesterday that he stayed suspended, according to the email obtained by Reuters.
As Bitar tried to interview its friends, Hezbollah waged a campaign against him and claimed that Washington was interfering with the probe. Bitar should be changed, according to the head of Hezbollah.