Beirut blast investigator, Judge Tarek Bitar, is refusing the request of the parliament’s administration and justice committee to hand over more evidence to support his request to have the immunities of three former MPs lifted.
The three officials are:
- former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil
- former Public Works Minister Ghazi Zeaiter
- former Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk
The parliament’s administration and justice committee have decided on Friday to postpone their decision until Judge Bitar hands over “all evidence available in the investigation, as well as all documents that prove suspicions,” as stated by the deputy speaker Elie Ferzli on Friday.
Only then would they reconvene to decide whether or not to waive immunity.
In response, Judge Bitar refused the request for “more evidence” as it might compromise the confidentiality of the investigation, and that he is not obliged by law to submit more documents, Al-Jadeed reported, citing judicial sources.
He explained in an official letter that “he had already handed over all the documents that needed to be handed over,” a judicial source of AFP noted.
Deemed a stalling move, the request of the parliament administration and judicial committee comes to contradict the position taken by the three former MPs Khalil, Zeaiter, and Machnouk who had earlier declared their willingness to be questioned by the judge.
It also counters Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri‘s statement that there would be no immunity for wrongdoers in the Beirut Explosion case.
However, this request, which breaches the separation of powers between the legislature and the judiciary, is ensuing as a new strong obstacle in the course of justice.
At this stage of the investigation of the Beirut Blast that is nearing its first dark anniversary, a deadlock is now forming with the refusal of the committee to act without “more evidence” and Judge Bitar’s refusal to compromise the confidentiality of the investigation.
Meanwhile, families and friends of the Beirut blast victims continue to protest for justice. They protested again on Monday, this time outside of Machnouk’s residence, and announced that they will protest in front of the houses of several other defendants.