BEIRUT — Judicial authorities in Lebanon Wednesday ordered the temporary seizure of the property of two deputies in the case of the deadly explosion which destroyed Beirut port two years ago.
“Judge Najah Itani has issued a temporary seizure order worth LL100 billion on the property of MPs Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter,” a judicial source told AFP.
The source said the decision was issued in the context of a complaint filed by the Beirut Bar Association to question the two for having “used their rights... in an arbitrary manner by filing complaints intended to hinder the investigation.”
Compensation of LL100 billion is being sought.
A judicial source also confirmed to L'Orient Today that the seizure order was issued by the Enforcement Department in Beirut.
The Prosecution Office of the Beirut Bar Association filed the lawsuits, accusing Khalil and Zeaiter of “abusing of the right of defense of the families of the blast’s victims, prosecution and obstruction of justice,” a statement by the families of the victims said.
In a statement issued Wednesday night, the MPs’ defense attorneys said that LL100 billion "is the number claimed by the Prosecution Office of the Bar Association in the lawsuit filed by it against MPs Zeaiter and Khalil ... not the real estate value of the house on which the seizure sign is placed."
The statement added that once officially notified of the seizure order, "we will present a reply statement in response to the allegations and fallacies of the plaintiff and [seek] to lift the seizure, because it is in anticipation of the decision of the judiciary before which the malicious case was submitted."
On Thursday, crisis-hit Lebanon marked two years since the massive port blast ripped through Beirut.
The dockside blast of haphazardly stored ammonium nitrate, one of history’s biggest non-nuclear explosions, killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and decimated vast areas of the capital.
After the tragedy, the bar launched legal proceedings against the state on behalf of nearly 1,400 families of victims.
However, an investigation into the cause has been stalled amid political interference and no state official has yet been held accountable over the tragedy.
Khalil and Zeaiter, of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal party, filed a total of 20 complaints against Judge Tareq Bitar for obstructing the investigation which he himself was carrying out.
Politicians on all sides have refused to be questioned by the judge.
Officials close to the powerful Hezbollah movement have also curtailed Bitar’s work with a series of lawsuits.
His investigation has been paused since December 23.
On Thursday’s second anniversary of the blast, relatives of victims demanded an international inquiry.
“Judge Najah Itani has issued a temporary seizure order worth LL100 billion on the property of MPs Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter,” a judicial source told AFP.The source said the decision was...