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Monday, October 18, 2021

Lebanon court dismisses case against Beirut blast judge, allowing probe to resume

A general view shows the site of the 2020 Beirut port explosion, Lebanon October 13, 2021. The Arabic reads: ‘The right to justice’. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT, Oct 14 (Reuters) – A Lebanese court on Thursday dismissed a legal complaint brought against the lead investigator of last year’s Beirut port blast probe, allowing him to resume work, court documents showed.

The probe into the catastrophic August explosion, which killed more than 200, was suspended this week following the complaint by two top politicians, one of whom lead judge Tarek Bitar had issued an arrest warrant for.

Bitar has been under enormous pressure from groups that accuse his investigation of bias and have mounted a smear campaign against him that spilled over into cabinet on Tuesday, tipping the country into a new crisis as it battles an economic meltdown. read more

The powerful Iran-backed Shi’ite Hezbollah group has led calls for Bitar’s removal and accused him of being politicised, and plans protestsalongside the Shi’ite Amal movement on Thursday in Beirut to demand that he go.

This week’s complaint was the latest in a series filed against Bitar him by various politicians he wanted to question over their knowledge of the chemicals that triggered the explosion after having been stored unsafely at the port for years.

It was brought forward by former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil and former public works minister Ghazi Zeiter.

Bitar had issued an arrest warrant for Khalil, the right-hand man of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri – the most senior Shi’ite in the state – and a close Hezbollah ally, shortly before the investigation was suspended.

Writing By Maha El Dahan; Editing by Toby Chopra and John Stonestreet

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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