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Some Relatives of Beirut Port Blast Victims Call for Judge Bitar’s Removal

Some Relatives of Beirut Port Blast Victims Call for Judge Bitar’s Removal

Saturday, 15 January, 2022 - 10:45
Relatives of victims of Beirut port explosion stand near burning tires during a protest outside the Justice Palace in Beirut, Lebanon February 19, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Several families of the victims of the Aug. 2020 Beirut port explosion have requested the removal of the judicial investigator, Judge Tarek Bitar.

Members of the “Constituent Assembly of the Families of the Martyrs, Wounded and Victims of the Beirut Port Explosion” said after meeting with the head of the Supreme Judicial Council, Judge Suhail Abboud, that they were “going to request the dismissal of Judge Bitar from the case in order to serve the cause and achieve justice to the families of the port’s martyrs.”

The gathering represents some relatives of the victims, after their split from the main committee, as a result of a dispute over the decisions taken by Bitar.

The group’s spokesman, Ibrahim Hoteit, said: “The policy adopted by the judicial investigator, Judge Tarek Bitar, is no longer acceptable because it is discretionary and invalid.”

He wondered why Bitar “disregards politicians and military leaders who were aware of the presence of the ammonium nitrate in the port and did not summon them for questioning.”

The massive explosion at Beirut’s port was caused by a stockpile of improperly stored ammonium nitrates, which killed at least 216 people and destroyed several residential areas.

The Lebanese government has not convened since October in wake of a dispute with Hezbollah and Berri’s Amal movement over Bitar. The two allies have been demanding his removal from the case, accusing him of bias.

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