Maronite Patriarch: Naming An Alternate Judge Does Not Affect Judge Bitar’s Jurisdiction In The Beirut Blast Case

Dalati Nohra

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi said on Sunday that the investigative judge in the case of the Beirut Port blast, Tarek Bitar, is staying in his post and is in charge of the investigation file, but he is handcuffed by the finance minister’s refusal to sign the decree of judicial appointments.

He added that the proposal to name an alternate judge “does not at all affect the jurisdiction of Judge Bitar” and is “related to the file of those who have been detained for more than two years.”

“We suggest hearing the opinion of the former heads of the Higher Judicial Council regarding the case, in order to settle it and reassure the families of the victims,” al-Rahi urged.

The victims’ families protested for several days in a row to condemn the decision of the Higher Judicial Court to remove Judge Tarek Bitar from the port explosion case and appoint a new judge to lead the investigation.

They carried out protests in front of the Justice Minister’s apartment in Hazmieh on Wednesday, in front of the Justice Palace on Thursday morning, in front of the home of the head of the Higher Judicial Council on Thursday evening, and even stormed into the Justice Ministry on Friday where riot police intervened to remove them.

During these protests, cries of “Shame on you!” were heard as well as “You are assassinating the law, they are assassinating our case.”

Related: Lebanon’s Higher Judicial Council Proposed Appointing An Assistant Judge In The Beirut Blast Case

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