The forensic investigator promises a presumptive decision soon

The forensic investigator promises a presumptive decision soon
The forensic investigator promises a presumptive decision soon

Maysam Rizk

The judicial investigator, Judge Tariq Al-Bitar, confirmed before the Supreme Judicial Council that he had not committed any violations in the investigations he was conducting in the crime of bombing the port, and informed the Council that he is continuing his investigations in accordance with the provisions of the law.

This is the outcome of the “hearing session” that the Judicial Council held with Al-Bitar yesterday, and coincided with the confirmation of previous correspondences of the Ministry of Justice to the Parliament regarding the requests of the judicial investigator to summon ministers and deputies to the investigation, and that in the event that they do not comply with the deadlines given to them by correspondence through the Ministry of Justice, it will be to inform them.

Practically, it is not possible to put the news of the Judicial Council hearing the judicial investigator in the category of re-correcting the course, nor can it be considered a detailed matter. The deliberations ended in less than an hour, and what was described as “immunity” was established that prevents the judicial investigator from being held accountable for disciplinary errors that his opponents are talking about among the defendants, or political forces and references that fear for public stability as a result of the discretionary measures taken by Al-Bitar in the investigations. It was clear to the observers that the Speaker of the Council, Judge Suhail Abboud, took over, before, during and after the session, to provide all forms of protection for Al-Bitar, reflecting the positions of key parties in the state, including Presidents Michel Aoun, Najib, Mikati and others.

In the two sessions held by the Judicial Council before yesterday’s hearing, Abboud struggled to block the way to summon Al-Bitar. The first (held on the 19th of this month) was preceded by an agreement that the judiciary would play the role required of it and find an appropriate way out for the Al-Bitar case and address it. On the session’s agenda was a complaint submitted by the lawyer of former Minister Youssef Fenianos, who demanded that it be referred to the Judicial Council. However, Abboud pushed not to discuss the matter, and demanded more time to study the issue and to meet on Thursday (21 January) to decide on it. This was the second session that witnessed a discussion between Abboud and members of the council, which lasted 4 hours, in which Abboud sought not to decide on the summons. However, the insistence of the majority (who agreed at least on the principle of summoning al-Bitar) entrapped Judge Abboud, especially after a proposal to put the matter to a vote, which prompted him to accuse the members of being “politicised.” After taking a response, it was agreed to summon Al-Bitar, without writing the agreement in the minutes of the session, which Abboud demanded to keep it open with the session until yesterday. When Abboud found that he was obliged to summon Al-Bitar, he tried to impose a condition on the members of the council that the questions that would be put to the judicial investigator be agreed in advance.

In yesterday’s session, great care was taken to summon Al-Bitar on the same day, for fear of flying the agreement, especially since Abboud is leaving today for France and will not return before Sunday. So when the session began at 10 am, Abboud was reminded to agree on the questions. At twelve noon, the judicial investigator was contacted, but the latter did not attend the session until three hours later, on the pretext that he was waiting for an answer from the security services as to whether his security situation allowed him to attend.

Participants in the meeting confirmed that Abboud moderated the session in a way that prevented “deep accountability and entering into the details,” as pro forma questions were asked to which Al-Bitar answered in a brief and quick manner, with some focusing on the necessity of Al-Bitar’s commitment to work on completing investigations and preparing the indictment as soon as possible. Noting here, that the Prime Minister’s visitors quoted him as saying that he had heard that the indictment would be issued before the end of the year, and would put an end to the many debates that exist today.

Subsequently, the Supreme Judicial Council issued a statement in which “Judicial Investigator Judge Tariq Al-Bitar attended and was heard and discussed with him what was raised regarding the Beirut Port explosion file. To achieve justice and determine responsibilities against the perpetrators.”

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