Lebanese Court Rejects Removal of Beirut Blast Judge

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The Civil Court of Cassation rejected on Monday the request of ex-ministers Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter to remove Beirut Blast investigative Judge Tarek Bitar.

“The court is not entitled to respond,” the statement read, adding that it is outside of its jurisdiction.

Both parties are expected to pay for the court’s time.

Khalil and Zeaiter submitted their request on Oct. 8th claiming “legitimate suspicion” of Bitar and accusing him of bias. 

Former Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk also filed a request to remove the judge before the Court of Criminal Appeals, using the same arguments. His request has yet to be answered. 

Bitar is set to interrogate Khalil on Oct. 12th, Machnouk and Zaiter on Oct. 13th, and former Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Oct. 28th, although he is still out of the country.

This is not the first time politicians tried to derail the investigation of this high-profile case. 

Machnouk, Zaiter, and former Public Works and Transportation Minister Youssef Fenianos had filed a suit at the end of September, requesting Bitar’s dismissal.

The request paused the investigation for a few days before the Court of Appeals rejected the complaint and filed each politician 800,000 LBP.

Parliament also sent out a letter to Bitar at the end of August stating that issuing subpoenas for Diab was outside of his jurisdiction.

Former investigative Judge Fadi Sawan was dismissed by similar tactics at the end of last year; dealing a hard blow to the investigation as well as to the hope for the truth, which is all now on the shoulders of Judge Bitar.


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Lebanese Court Rejects Removal of Beirut Blast Judge

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