The First Nominee To Lead Beirut Blast Probe Just Got Rejected

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Caretaker Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najem nominated an official to take over the August 4th Beirut blast investigation on Friday but was quickly rejected by the Higher Judicial Council.

Najem proposed Judge Samer Younes to lead the already-stalled investigation, but the proposal did not go through due to Younes’ close ties to President Michel Aoun

Judge Samer Younes was the initial name proposed by the caretaker Justice Minister back in August, but was also rejected at the time on the same basis.

A judicial source told local media reporters that the Higher Judicial Council acknowledges the limited time it has to choose a new lead investigator, as the probe led by Sawan already took 6 months and did not lead to any official answer.

Thursday’s decision to remove Sawan came after many obstacles from former ministers, who were accused of negligence that led to the blast.

However, on paper, the reasoning goes back to Sawan’s damaged apartment in Ashrafieh, which led the court to believe he will not be objective in his ruling.

The Court of Cassation called for a new investigating judge to be appointed to lead the probe, which infuriated the families and friends of the victims, some of whom demonstrated for the second time in a row.

According to Lebanese law, caretaker Justice Minister Najem is now responsible for recommending a replacement for Sawan.

In a statement, the Judicial Council said that they will conduct “serious discussions” on whom to replace Sawan with on Monday.

Adding to the 6-month delay in the investigation more could be expected in the assignment of a new judge, considering the trend of political official disagreements Lebanon has been witnessing in regards to forming a new cabinet.

It is also stipulated that all which Judge Sawan has done during half a year of probing could be set aside based on that he allegedly was “not impartial.”


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