BEIRUT — Relatives of the victims of the Aug. 4, 2020 Beirut port blast held a sit-in on Thursday at the Justice Ministry in Beirut to protest the delay in judicial assignments stalling the blast investigation.
Here’s what we know:
• Spokesperson for the families of blast victims William Noun called for “widespread attendance” to the commemorative march on Aug. 4, noting that this year there would be no prayer or entry into the port.
• Noun said the families of the victims intend to visit Higher Judicial Council head Suhail Abboud to discuss a potential solution “maybe before Aug. 4” for the appointment of members of the Court of Cassation’s plenary assembly, which has stalled the investigation pending the approval of caretaker Finance Minister Yousself Khalil.
• “[Parliament Speaker Nabih] Berri refused that the finance minister sign the assignments unless there’s a 6-6 distribution [an equal number of Christians and Muslims in the assembly], if Abboud agrees [to the scheme] then it’s solved,” Noun said, adding that “the Finance Minister said that if Berri tells him to sign, he’ll sign.”
• Noun clarified that the caretaker justice minister’s role is in approving the potential new judicial assignments to the Higher Judicial Council so that they can be forwarded to the cabinet and then the finance minister after which they would need final approval from the prime minister and the president, all of whom he claimed gave assurances for approving the assignments as long as the new division of seats is respected.
• “We’re attached to the silos, we’ve said this more than 100 times … until the end of the investigation,” Noun responded to a question regarding the controversy over the demolition of the port grain silos damaged in the blast. Earlier Thursday, MP Paula Yaacoubian presented an urgent repeated law proposal designating the silos as a national monument.