Violence Erupted As Families Of Beirut Blast Victims Stormed The Justice Ministry


The families of the victims of the Beirut Blast have been protesting in several places during the past few days 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 protested on Wednesday evening in front of the apartment of Justice Minister of Justice Henry Khoury in Hazmieh, on Thursday morning in front of the Justice Palace, and on Thursday evening, in front of the home of the head of the Higher Judicial Council, Judge Souheil Abboud in Ballouneh, Kesrouan.

This Friday morning was no exception. 

The families held a sit-in protest on Friday morning at the Ministry of Justice in Beirut. Tensions rose during the protest when families of the victims stormed the ministry and were violently removed by riot police. 

Images from the scene show protesters crowding the stairs of the ministry and members of the security forces on the premises trying to keep the protesters from going further.

Cries such as “Shame on you,” and “Where is the minister?” were reportedly heard among the protesters.

Local news reported that the protesters wanted to reach the office of the caretaker Minister of Justice, Henri Khoury, but were unable to. Reportedly, the minister was not present in the building.

The families were removed from the building after a physical fight with the riot police. 

More than two years after the explosion, there has still not been justice for the victims. The investigation into the tragedy has been interrupted multiple times and is currently suspended after complaints against Judge Bitar. Among the complainers are officials who are suspects in the investigations and/or are subject to arrest warrants. 

Judge Bitar is preparing a legal study to confirm that the decision of removing him and appointing a new judge for the case is illegal.

Related: The 244 Beirut Blast Victims, Remember Their Names

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