BEIRUT — Families of victims of the Beirut port explosion demonstrated Thursday morning in front of the Justice Palace in Beirut in solidarity with investigating judge Tarek Bitar, who is facing strong interference and obstruction from politicians as he attempts to bring in top officials for questioning.
Here’s what we know:
• “It is time for the judiciary to take a drastic solution and use its conscience so that the investigation continues and we reach the truth,” said a spokesperson for the families at the protest.
• “You have committed another crime against us and history will not forgive you,” said another relative of the victims, addressing the political leaders implicated in the investigation who are now trying to torpedo it.
• William Noun, the brother of a firefighter who died in the explosion, accused an army officer of falsifying the investigation, showing the cameras documents that he said proved this.
• More than 15 months after the tragedy of Aug. 4, 2020, at the Beirut port, which killed more than 200 people and injured thousands, the investigation is presently suspended.
• Court of Appeals judge Habib Mezher, who had halted Bitar’s investigation in relation to a lawsuit filed by former Public Works Minister Youssef Fenianos, was dismissed from the case on Nov. 9 for overstepping his jurisdiction; however, the probe has not yet been resumed.
• In the meantime, 15 people, including the former director of Customs, Badri Daher, remain in detention. But no senior politicians have been arrested so far, despite several warrants for senior leaders or former leaders, such as former head of government Hassan Diab and sitting MPs Ali Hassan Khalil, Ghazi Zeaïter and Nohad Machnouk, as well as Fenianos.