Rally Held to Show Support for Judge Investigating Beirut Port Explosion

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Families of Beirut Explosion Victims Get Together to Fight Back Against the Political Pressure on Judge

Dozens of families of those killed in the Beirut explosion in 2020 gathered this Thursday in the Lebanese capital. This was a sign of support for Judge Tarek Bitar, who is being prosecuted for insubordination for wanting to continue to investigate the tragedy.

Several NGOs and families of victims accused the Lebanese authorities of hindering the investigation to avoid prosecution. They refused to open an international investigation, which forced Judge Bitar to suspend his investigation for 13 months.

Relatives of the victims gathered in front of the Palace of Justice, carrying photos of their dead relatives. Together with other activists, they tried to force their way into the Palace of Justice, leading to clashes between security forces and protesters.

The group of families of the victims denounced “the political, security and judicial coup d’├ętat”, which in their opinion, entails the decision to prosecute Judge Bitar. They urged the authorities to assume “full responsibility for the safety of the judge”, who feels threatened.

When deciding to resume the investigation on Monday, the magistrate indicted several personalities, including Attorney General Ghassan Oueidate and two senior security officials. In retaliation, Oueidate decided to prosecute Judge Bitar for “rebellion against justice” and “usurpation of power”.

The relatives hoped to apply pressure during a meeting of the Superior Council of the Magistracy, scheduled for mid-morning. However, the appointment was postponed due to disagreements between the members of the body.

Opposition lawmaker Samy Gemayel urged the Lebanese to “defend judicial system and the independence of justice in the face of a mafia and an armed militia that destroys this country”. The battle could lead to a complete collapse of the judiciary if the political pressure persists.

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