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Lebanon’s PM Says Govt Is Keen Not to Interfere in Any File Related to Judiciary

Lebanon’s PM Says Govt Is Keen Not to Interfere in Any File Related to Judiciary

Saturday, 16 October, 2021 - 16:15
People on the balcony of a bullet-riddled building in Beirut, on October 15, 2021. (Reuters)

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the government is keen not to interfere in any file related to the judiciary, according to a statement from his office on Saturday.

The statement came following a meeting with the justice minister and the head of the higher judicial council after seven people were killed in clashes in Beirut on Thursday.

The violence began as people were gathering for a protest called by Hezbollah against Judge Tarek Bitar, who is investigating last year’s Beirut port blast.

"The judicial authority must take whatever measures it deems appropriate," Mikati added.

Justice Minister Henry Khoury said Bitar has full authority in the case and has the right to summon whoever he wants, Al Jadeed television reported.

The higher judicial council will meet with Bitar on Tuesday to listen to his opinion on the course of the investigation, LBCI TV said in a tweet on Saturday.

The investigation into the Aug. 4, 2020 explosion, one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts in history, has made little headway amid a smear campaign against Bitar and pushback from powerful Lebanese factions. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has said Bitar was biased and politicized after he attempted to question official who include allies of the party.

Authorities have detained 19 people in relation to Thursday’s fighting.

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