Two Amal MPs, Ghazi Zaiter and Ali Hassan Khalil, filed a recusal lawsuit against Judge Tarek Bitar, the lead Beirut port blast investigator, before the Criminal Court of Cassation.
The two lawmakers, who are suspects in the Beirut Port explosion and were reelected as MPs last year, cited “legitimate suspicion” as the reason for filing the lawsuit.
LBCI television reported that Khalil had also filed a lawsuit against Bitar before the Judicial Inspection Commission, accusing the judge of “willful misconduct” in the port blast case.
The filing of the lawsuits came after Judge Bitar took Lebanon by surprise last Monday when he resumed his investigation after a 13-month hiatus. He charged eight new suspects including high-level security officials and Lebanon’s top prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat.
Bitar said that he based his decision on a legal review he conducted himself and a source close to him said that the judge “is convinced it’s crucial to hold officials accountable and finish his mission.”
The reopening of the case sparked a judicial battle between Bitar and Oueidat, putting Lebanon’s notoriously politicized justice system to yet another test. Oueidat retaliated by charging Bitar with “usurping power” and insubordination and slapped the judge with a travel ban.
However, Bitar said that he would not step down even if it costs him his life and that Oueidat “has no authority” to intervene in the case.
Meanwhile, caretaker Justice Minister Khoury will return to Beirut on Monday evening to resume his work and address the rift between judges and find a solution for the Beirut port file.
The situation in Lebanon remains tense as the judicial system continues to face challenges in finding justice for the victims of the Beirut port blast.