The judge investigating Beirut’s devastating port bombing escaped an inquiry when a court on Monday dismissed two complaints against him.
Judge Tariq Betar, who was investigating the destruction of Lebanon’s deadliest peace time, had to suspend his work last Monday after a former minister expressed suspicion of negligence and was asked to be replaced by a Beirut court. ۔
Two other former ministers also filed a similar petition a few days later on suspicion of negligence.
Suspension of investigation. There was widespread criticism from rights groups and relatives of the blast victims. Against the political leaders who removed the first judge, Fadi Sawan, in February for summoning senior officials.
On Monday, the Beirut Court of Appeal, headed by Judge Naseeb Elia, dismissed the lawsuits filed by former ministers Nohad Machnuk, Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeitar, all of whom are also legislators.
“The court believes that it does not have the authority to rule on the matter,” the official added.
According to the court official, the ruling, which is effective immediately, allows Batar to “resume the investigation immediately.”
He said Batar was expected to summon the three lawmakers before the October 19 session of parliament, after which they would benefit from political immunity.
On August 4, 2020, hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded in a port warehouse. One of the largest non-nuclear explosions In history.
The tremor was felt as far away as Cyprus. Beirut Destroyed, 215 people killed and thousands injured, some of them several kilometers (miles) from the site of the blast.
Lebanese authorities have repeatedly rejected international investigations and obstructed a local investigation that has yet to identify a single culprit.
For the families of the victims, the Sameer campaign against Batar indicates that the investigation is moving in the right direction.
Antonella Hitti, whose brother, sister-in-law and cousin were all killed in the blast, told France 24: “The threats against him show that he is doing a good job. […] People are terrified that they are willing to do anything to get him fired.
Last month, parliament rejected Batar’s request for questioning three lawmakers, arguing that only a special court could question parliamentary officials.
Batar is seen as a neutral force whose political landscape is rife with corruption and nepotism. He told the Lebanese newspaper L’Orient-Le-Jour in an interview in February, “The Beirut port bombing case is sacred to me. We are in favor of the victims to cover up the truth.”
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused authorities of brutally obstructing justice and ruthlessly neglecting affected families.
The relatives staged a protest on Wednesday, warning authorities against repeating what happened to Batar’s predecessor Sawan.
(France 24 with AFP)