Lebanese court dismisses complaints made against port investigation judge

Following a court decision on Monday, complaints against Judge Tarek Bitar, who is leading the investigation into Beirut’s catastrophic port explosion, were rejected.

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Tarek Bitar, the judge assigned to investigate Beirut’s catastrophic port explosion, has remained in his position as attempts to have him removed from the inquiry failed when a court dismissed two complaints against him on Monday.

The investigation into the explosion on August 4, 2020, one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts in history, has made little headway amid a smear campaign against Judge Tarek Bitar and pushback from powerful Lebanese factions.

Three former ministers, who were being charged with negligence leading to the blast which was caused by a massive amount of ammonium nitrate left in the middle of Beirut, lodged complaints against Bitar. The three former ministers have denied any wrongdoing.

Bitar will now be able to resume requests to interrogate top officials following Monday’s decision by the court of cassation.

However,  the judge’s efforts to question former and serving state officials, including former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, ex-ministers and senior security officials on suspicion of negligence, have been repeatedly denied.

Many in Lebanon, particularly families of the victims of the blast which killed more than 200 people, are furious that no senior official has been held accountable as more than a year has passed since the explosion.

Judge Fadi Sawan, who was the predecessor of Judge Tarek Bitar, was removed from the investigation in February on the basis of complaints alleging bias.

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