The families of victims of the Beirut Port blast are protesting the postponement of the investigation into the massive explosion, saying the inquiry is the “last opportunity for accountability” in Lebanon.
Around 300 protesters were convened by the Palace of Justice in Beirut to convict top political officials for intending to remove lead investigator Judge Tarek Bitar from the investigation after it was suspended on Monday.
Paul Naggear, who lost his three-year-old daughter Alexandra in the blast, was outraged that the investigation had been suspended. He likened Lebanese officials to criminals. “Although expected from the mafia, it’s disgusting”, Naggear told an international news agency.
Protesters held up portraits of family members they lost in the blast.
Among them was 17-year-old Christelle Merhi, whose father Joseph worked at the Beirut Port and was killed in the explosion.
“If we do not demand the truth, then we will never know what happened to the victims,” Merhi told an international news agency. “We support Judge Bitar and want him to continue leading the investigation.”
The Beirut port blast inquiry was suspended on Monday after former Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, who is accused of criminal negligence over the blast, formally notified the investigator, Bitar, of his request to dismiss him from the case.