The Higher Defense Council of Lebanon has refused to grant the necessary permission for judicial investigator Judge Tarek Bitar to prosecute Maj. Gen. Tony Saliba.
During a meeting on Thursday, the council did not lift the immunity of Saliba, the chief of State Security, whom Judge Bitar, who is leading the probe into the Beirut Port Explosion, wants to question over his alleged relation to the blast.
Judge Bitar has been seeking to prosecute several senior Lebanese politicians and security officials over their connection to the deadly explosion for over a month.
The immunities that these individuals hold, however, are proving difficult to drop in light of the apparent powerful resistance on the part of the political class.
When it refused to grant Judge Bitar the permission regarding Maj. Gen. Saliba, the Higher Defense Council cited the laws that govern the work of State Security and the powers granted to it.
Notably, Saliba is the second Lebanese security official targeted in the Beirut blast case to retain his immunity after Judge Bitar’s request to lift it.
Judge Bitar had also requested the lifting of the immunity of Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, Director-General of General Security, but caretaker Interior Minister Mohammad Fahmi refused to grant his permission for this.