BEIRUT — Twenty people gathered Wednesday evening by the statue of the Immigrant in Beirut for their monthly mobilization to demand justice for the victims of the Aug. 4, 2020 port blast. At least 235 were killed, more than 6,500 were injured and entire sections of the Lebanese capital were ravaged following the explosion.
In a statement, the victims' relatives said they will not stop "until justice is achieved and everyone involved in the crime of the century is held accountable." They called for "the activation of the work of the first president of the Beirut Court of Appeal, Habib Rizkallah," as well as "the acceleration of prosecutions for abuse of power."
The relatives demanded that "a legal and rapid solution be found to judge those who have been released by non-competent authorities."
In June, President of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) Souheil Abboud appointed a magistrate, First President of the Court of Appeal Habib Rizkallah, to look into proceedings brought by Public Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation Ghassan Oueidat against Investigating Judge at the Court of Justice Tarek Bitar. So far, the investigating judge has not been summoned and no ruling has been issued.
"We are living under authoritarian rule, with leaders who control the state and the judicial [power], and this reality is no longer bearable," said the victims' relatives.
"It is unacceptable that the port case be lost [by] politicians who are accustomed to concealing the truth to protect [themselves]. We won't allow anyone to mess with the port case or stain the blood of our victims with their lies, games and tricks. We have had enough of deceptive promises," they added.
On Aug. 4 of this year, the third commemoration of the tragedy drew fewer demonstrators than in previous years, and was generally peaceful. Members of parliament joined the mobilization but their presence was criticized.
The victims' relatives denounced the obstruction of the investigation by multiple political interferences despite Judge Tarek Bitar trying several times to pursue it. At the end of August, the families announced that a petition for an international fact-finding commission was signed by an unspecified majority of Lebanese MPs and will soon be presented to the UN Security Council.