A parliamentary source revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the two members of the “Development and Liberation” parliamentary bloc, MPs Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zuaiter, “filed a lawsuit before the Court of Appeal in Beirut,” asking the court to “stop a hand” in the file of the Beirut port explosion, Judge Tariq Al-Bitar. .
The source said that the legal team of Representatives Zuaiter and Khalil, who are also former ministers, filed the lawsuit yesterday before the Court of Appeal in Beirut headed by Judge Nassib Elia, without revealing any additional details. The source said it was up to legal procedures and the lawyers’ team.
The lawsuit is the third against Judge Al-Bitar before the Court of Appeal, after the lawsuit of Deputy Nohad Al-Mashnouq, in which he demanded that Judge Al-Bitar be dismissed from the file and replaced by another judge, and the lawsuit of former Minister Youssef Fenianos against Al-Bitar with “legitimate suspicion” of the judge.
Al-Bitar had issued a summons to deputies Khalil, a former finance minister, and Zuaiter, a former minister of works, to appear before him today on October 1, and decided to inform them through the General Secretariat of the House of Representatives and send the notification by the discriminatory Public Prosecution.
Last month, he issued an arrest warrant in absentia for Fenianos, after he failed to attend an interrogation session. Al-Machnouk was also summoned to an interrogation session as a defendant. The judicial investigator accuses the four former ministers of negligence, negligence, and possible intent that led to the murder. And rejected the General Secretariat of the House of Representatives last week, notification notes sent by Al-Bitar to question the three deputies.
Investigations into the Beirut port explosion file were frozen, after the judicial investigator was informed of the response suit filed by MP Al-Machnouk, in which he demands a change of judge, which means that Al-Bitar has suspended his investigations until the Beirut Court of Appeal decides to accept or reject the case.
Al-Machnouk considered that the accusation against him “is a violation of the constitution” and “a violation of its provisions and the principles of trial of presidents and ministers.” He demanded the dismissal of Judge Al-Bitar and the appointment of another judicial investigator in his place.
Legal controversy surrounds Al-Bitar’s mission since he issued the allegations, regarding the reference for trying the defendants, as political forces including “Hezbollah”, “Amal Movement”, “Future Movement” and “Marada Movement” insist that the valid reference to try the former ministers is “ The Supreme Council for the Trial of Presidents and Ministers. Some critics say that al-Bitar and his predecessor, Judge Fadi al-Sawwan, have overstepped their powers and that cases against senior officials should be referred to the Supreme Council. Political forces, led by Hezbollah, also accuse Judge Al-Bitar of “discretionary” in the allegations.
In contrast to the political division, a US State Department spokesman called on the Lebanese authorities to expedite the completion of a comprehensive and transparent investigation into the explosion in the port of Beirut.
In response to a question by the American “Al-Hurra” channel about the suspension of the investigative judge, Tariq Al-Bitar, after he was threatened by Hezbollah, the spokesman said: “As the United States and the international community made clear through the UN Security Council and the International Support Group for Lebanon, we urge the Lebanese authorities to: Expedite the completion of a comprehensive and transparent investigation into the causes of the August 4, 2020 explosion in the port of Beirut.
The French Foreign Ministry had “expressed its regret” the day before yesterday (Wednesday), for suspending the investigation into the explosion in the port of Beirut, estimating that the Lebanese have a “right to know” what happened and that the Lebanese judiciary should be able to “work with complete transparency away from any political interference.” ». “It is up to the Lebanese authorities to allow the investigation to continue with the necessary financial and human resources, in order to shed light on what happened on August 4, 2020, in line with the legitimate expectations of the Lebanese people,” the French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.