Freezing investigations into the Beirut port explosion

Waiting for the outcome of Al-Machnouk’s lawsuit to change Judge Al-Bitar

A lawsuit filed by Lebanese MP Nouhad Al-Machnouk demanding a change of the investigative judge in the Beirut port explosion, Tariq Al-Bitar, has caused the investigations to be frozen until the Beirut Appeals Court decides to accept or reject the case.

Last week, Machnouk submitted a request to the Court of Appeal in Beirut to appoint a judicial investigator to replace Judge Al-Bitar. This came after Al-Bitar set the first of next October as a date to interrogate Al-Machnouk as a “defendant” as a former Minister of Interior. Al-Machnouk attributed his request to “what this procedure constituted of transgressing the constitution and violating its provisions and the principles of trial of presidents and ministers.”

The official “National News Agency” stated that Al-Bitar was informed yesterday (Monday) of the response suit submitted by MP Machnouk. As of his notification, he suspended his investigations and all procedures related to the Beirut Port explosion file, until the Beirut Court of Appeal, headed by Judge Nassib Elia, decides to accept or reject the case.

A legal source told Asharq Al-Awsat that notifying the judicial investigator of the response claim means that “his work will automatically stop and all procedures and investigations will be suspended until the case is considered,” which will be considered by a specialized chamber in the Court of Cassation. The source said that if the Court of Cassation decides to stop the case, “a new judicial investigator will be appointed” to follow up the investigations, and if the court decides to continue his work, he will appeal it.

Since his allegations were made last July, Al-Bitar has clashed with political forces that rejected these allegations, led by Hezbollah, which went on to accuse Al-Bitar of discretion in the judicial allegations he made against political and security figures.

Former Minister of Justice Ibrahim Najjar views the procedure as “a normal legal procedure because every defendant is legally entitled to make formal defenses, including invalidity, challenge to legitimate suspicion, or request the judge’s dismissal.”
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