The members of the Supreme Judicial Council proposed the appointment of an assistant investigative judge upon the recusal of the lead judge investigating the Beirut Port Explosion, Tarek Bitar.
Families of the blast victims rejected the decision of the Minister of Justice. They consider that the minister is “sewing a new law at his expense and at the expense of the politicians.”
They called on the Supreme Judicial Council “to implement judicial appointments instead of approving an illegal decision so that Judge Bitar completes his investigations to reach the truth.”
In a letter first seen by Reuters, Justice Minister Henry Khoury asked Lebanon’s Higher Judicial Council to discuss assigning a judicial investigator “to work on urgent and necessary matters” in the case.
That judge would stay in place “as long as the original investigator cannot carry out his missions — including release requests.”
Independent MPs criticized the move for “gross violations” of the judicial process and said it was intended as a “final blow” to Judge Bitar’s role.
Sources close to Judge Bitar revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that he is “working on developing a legal study that would enable him to resume investigations regardless of the lawsuits filed against him.”
They added that “he will take a legal position that is in the interest of the investigation.”
The victims’ families protested two days in a row in front of caretaker Minister of Justice Henri Khoury’s apartment in Hazmieh. One protester reportedly said: “You are assassinating the law, they are assassinating our case.”
Related: Families Of Beirut Blast Victims Are Protesting The Appointment Of New Judge