Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

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Beirut: According to judicial sources, the investigation into the fatal Beirut port bombing last year has been allowed to resume after being suspended for more than a month due to a legal claim against its chief investigator.

The Beirut court rejected the last lawsuit that prevented Bitar from questioning senior officials on Tuesday.

“They have reversed the decision that had led to the suspension of the probe and he can now resume his work for sure,” Nizar Saghieh, head of the Legal Agenda, a research and advocacy organization, told Reuters.

He said that if further legal complaints are filed, the restoration may be temporary.

The investigation into the August 4, 2020 explosion that killed more than 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed large areas of the city has made little progress under opposition from powerful factions, some of which led defamation campaigns and filed multiple lawsuits against Bitar.

The leader of Hezbollah, an armed Shia Muslim political movement supported by Iran, has repeatedly stated that he wants to remove Bitar from the case, and the quarrel around him has spread to the government, the cabinet of Prime Minister Najib Mikati There has been no meeting since October 12.

Many Lebanese are angry that more than one year on from the blast no senior official has been held accountable for the country’s worst peace-time disaster as it slips into political and economic meltdown.

Bitar has sought to question senior politicians, including former ministers and members of parliament, since July but nearly all have spurned him.

He is the second judge to take charge of the investigation after a legal complaint against the partiality of his predecessor Fady Sawan saw him removed in February.

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