BEIRUT — Amal Movement MPs and former ministers Ghazi Zeaiter and Ali Hassan Khalil, both implicated in the investigation into the 2020 Beirut port explosion, Thursday filed a lawsuit against the state for “serious faults” committed by Beirut Appeals Court judge Nassib Elia and two advisers to the court, Mariam Chamseddine and Rosine Hojeily.
Here’s what we know:
• On Oct. 4, the court had declared itself incompetent to rule on a request for dismissal presented three days earlier by Zeaiter and Khalil against the port blast probe head Judge Tarek Bitar. The request had then joined a similar appeal filed on Sept. 27 before the same court by former minister and MP Nohad Machnouk, who is also implicated in the blast probe.
• Contacted by L'Orient Today, a source close to Zeaiter and Khalil said that the appeal is based on a procedural issue, namely the lack of notification of both the judicial request of Zeaiter and Khalil, as well as the court’s decision of incompetence.
• Elia is accused of having first decided to notify Bitar, but then backtracking, “probably because he had been pressured, and also because Bitar had asked his clerk not to acknowledge receipt of the summons,” the source said.
• Another point raised against Elia is that he had asked Zeaiter and Khalil for a copy of the names of all the parties to the trial in order to notify them, but that he and his advisers had issued his decision of incompetence barely 24 hours later, without the plaintiffs having had time to provide him with the requested list.
• Finally, the common complaint against Elia, Chamseddine and Hojeily is that they did not notify Bitar or the parties to the case of the Beirut Appeals Court’s final judgment, which is a violation of the Code of Civil Procedure.
• According to the source, once the president and advisers of the Court of Appeal had been notified of a complaint against them by the two MPs, they could no longer rule on issues concerning those MPs.