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PORT INVESTIGATION

Activists seal office of judge whose ruling suspended port probe


Activists seal office of judge whose ruling suspended port probe

The Beirut port in the aftermath of the Aug. 4, 2020, explosion. (Credit: Houssam Shbaro/AFP)

BEIRUT — A dozen activists affiliated with the Noun organization, a women’s group inspired by the Oct. 17, 2019, uprising and born after the 2020 Beirut port explosion, on Tuesday used red wax to seal the office of Judge Habib Mezher of the Court of Appeals as a symbolic move to emphasize that Mezher should not hold his current position. The group contends that Mezher overstepped the law by suspending Judge Tarek Bitar’s probe into the blast last week.

Here’s what we know:

    • Christelle Abi Raad, one of the activists who was present at Mezher’s office Tuesday, told L’Orient Today that the mission was to “deliver a message and amplify our voices, and show that we will not be silent about the surpassing of the law.”

    • Abi Raad explained that Mezher did not explain himself and was only laughing and repeating the words “bravo, bravo” in a “sarcastic tone” as the activists sealed his office. She added that he then went to another office and stayed there until they had left the building.

    • The Coalition for Independent Judiciary had filed a lawsuit on Monday against Mezher for “violating the fundamental principles of law enforcement,” after he barred Judge Tarek Bitar’s probe last week, the state-run National News Agency reported.

    • Last week, Mezher halted Bitar’s investigation, marking the third time that Bitar has had to suspend his probe in the face of suits filed by former ministers who are accused of negligence in relation to the August 2020 explosion.

    • The symbolic sealing of the judge’s office follows controversy over his authority to make such a decision about Bitar’s investigation, with legal experts contending that the Court of Appeals did not appoint him to rule on the request to remove Bitar.


BEIRUT — A dozen activists affiliated with the Noun organization, a women’s group inspired by the Oct. 17, 2019, uprising and born after the 2020 Beirut port explosion, on Tuesday used red wax to seal the office of Judge Habib Mezher of the Court of Appeals as a symbolic move to emphasize that Mezher should not hold his current position. The group contends that Mezher overstepped the law by...