BEIRUT — Lebanese President Michel Aoun Monday called on judges and members of the Supreme Judicial Council to "speed up decisions in several pending judicial cases" during a meeting in Baabda with them. He underlined the cases of the Beirut port deadly explosion as well as "financial disputes.”
Here’s what we know:
• The meeting was attended by the caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury, the President of the Supreme Judicial Council, Souheil Abboud, the General Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation, Ghassan Oueidat, and five other judges.
• Aoun added that any “obstruction of the work of justice is inadmissible.” He said that the first step in the fight against corruption in Lebanon is the judiciary, which “must remain free of any pressure or temptations.”
• His words came after a recent move — reportedly by Banque du Liban, although a central bank spokesperson has denied it — to increase judges’ salaries by changing the rate at which they can withdraw from the banks. The judges can now withdraw their salaries at an exchange rate of LL8,000 to the dollar, rather than the official rate at LL1,500. This measure has been criticized as “illegal” and treating other civil servants “unequally.”
• As for his comments around “financial disputes,” Aoun and his party regularly claim to want to fight corruption as a priority and regularly target the governor of the Banque du Liban, who is the target of several investigations, in Lebanon and abroad, in several different cases, on charges including money laundering, fraud and illicit enrichment.