Lebanese Judge Tarek Bitar is facing a potential arrest and is being advised to stay at home by the Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun.
According to al-Akhbar, he was warned to “stay home and not go to the Justice Palace – neither in Beirut nor in Jdeideh — out of concern that he might get arrested by the State Security agency under the excuse of bringing him to interrogation before the state prosecutor.”
According to reports, Bitar has been in touch with senior officials to verify concerns for his life and the lives of his family members.
The French have reportedly also spoken to Bitar and have offered support, including residency, education, and other issues for his family – telling him to consider France his second country.
Bitar recently resumed his investigation into the Beirut port explosion after a 13-month hiatus. He has charged eight new suspects, including high-level security officials and Lebanon’s top prosecutor, Ghassan Oueidat.
The judge’s move has sparked a judicial battle with Oueidat who retaliated by charging the judge with “usurping power” and insubordination and imposed a travel ban as well as filing lawsuits against him.
Bitar has refused to step down and says that Oueidat has no authority to intervene in the case. Bitar’s decision to resume the investigation was based on a legal review that he conducted himself.
The Judge’s unwavering stance has also drawn international attention to the case and the human rights violations taking place in the country. The situation highlights the ongoing challenges facing the judicial system in Lebanon.