Local media reported that a Higher Judicial Council meeting to name an alternate judge in the Beirut port blast case witnessed heated disputes that reached the extent of the withdrawal of Council chief Judge Suheil Abboud from the session.
The session was adjourned to September 27 in order to take a decision on 6 candidates proposed for the task, including Judge Samaranda Nassar, al-Liwaa newspaper reported, describing the meeting as the longest in the Council’s history.
Families of detainees in the case rallied outside the Justice Palace, threatening to escalate their protests and vowing that they will no longer remain silent over the continued detention of their relatives.
They also stressed that they want an alternate judge in the case because “there is no other solution” to secure the release of their relatives. They noted that “this solution was decided by the justice minister and the Higher Judicial Council, who are the two authorities eligible to settle this file.”
Judge Bitar has been the subject of harsh criticism by Hezbollah calling his investigation into the Beirut Blast a “big mistake” and biased.
Bitar is the second judge to take the case. The first judge, Fadi Sawan, was forced out after complaints of bias by two Cabinet ministers. It is deemed that if the same happens to Bitar, it could be the final blow to the investigation.