Leading politicians and religious figures came to the defense of caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Friday after he was charged in connection to the Beirut Port blast.
According to the National News Agency, designate-PM Saad Hariri visited the Grand Serial, where he met with caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab to express solidarity with him after his indictment.
After the meeting, Hariri said: “I came to the Premiership to express my rejection of the clear and flagrant constitutional breach committed by the judge by indicting the prime minister. The constitution is clear, and prime ministers appear only before a special court set up by the Parliament.”
“The families of the martyrs have the right to know the truth. However, violating the constitution and indicting the prime minister is unacceptable. I came to stand with the prime minister and to express my solidarity with him,” Hariri stressed.
Diab, along with three former ministers, was charged on Thursday by Judge Fadi Sawan with negligence in connection to the August 4th explosion that led to disastrous consequences on the capital and its people.
Hariri wasn’t the only politician to rally behind Diab, as other political forces and officials also rushed to Diab’s defense on Friday.
Hezbollah issued a statement condemning the charges against the four officials, not only Diab, saying they were politically targeted and selectively chosen, as well as calling on Sawan to rethink his charges.
Caretaker Information Minister Manal Abdel-Samad tweeted in praise of Diab, citing him as a man of principle who is righteous and patriotic. “He was one of those who tried to get Lebanon out of the dark tunnel,” she said.
Caretaker Labor Minister Lamia Yammine also expressed solidarity with Diab, describing him as a man of integrity and honesty. She called on the judiciary to adopt a unified standard in its decisions.
According to Diab’s media office, the leading religious figure of the Sunni sect, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, also called Diab to express his support and solidarity.
It is to note that, following the charges, Hassan Dian said his “conscience is clear”.
Diab’s media office later posted a tweet calling the judge’s move unconstitutional, indicating he would not accept to be interrogated as Judge Sawan’s move to charge him goes against parliament laws and violates the constitution.
Despite the political “uproar” and as of yet, there is no indication that Judge Sawan will retract the summon. The interrogation is still set to take place on Monday at the Grand Serail.
Certainly, the rush of the politicians to defend Diab isn’t without controversy, with the Lebanese people reacting as they watched what some called “a charade” and some called “a tragedy” of sectarian politics prevailing over justice.
Some even accused these politicians of wanting to protect themselves from what might come, now that the investigating judge has “crossed the line” of their immunity.
According to Al-Jadeed news outlet, Judge Sawan has issued a summon for 12 ministers in relation to the Beirut Blast, not just Diab.
The same news outlet reported that, based on documents, the judge addressed the parliament in a letter stating the existence of new serious suspicions of negligence related to all the previous premiers and retired ministers, from 2013 to the date of the explosion.
Indictments of more political leaders and officials are now expected.
As the situation unravels, the people are holding their breath to see how far Judge Sawan is willing to go for justice to be served, and whether justice will be truly served when it is up against a mass of political leaders, past and present.