Lebanon’s Top Prosecutor Charges Beirut Blast Judge

In response to Lebanese Judge Tarek Bitar unexpectedly resuming his investigation into the 2020 Beirut Port blast on Monday, the country's top prosecutor, Ghassan Oweidat, on Wednesday filed charges against the judge and ordered the release of all suspects detained in connection with the case.

Lebanon’s Top Prosecutor Charges Beirut Blast Judge
Image credit: Reuters

Facts

  • In response to Lebanese Judge Tarek Bitar unexpectedly resuming his investigation into the 2020 Beirut Port blast on Monday, the country's top prosecutor, Ghassan Oweidat, on Wednesday filed charges against the judge and ordered the release of all suspects detained in connection with the case.
  • Judicial officials have said that, as there has been no ruling by the court regarding whether Bitar can resume working on the case or not, he used legal justifications for the resumption of the probe. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, didn't elaborate on the details of the justifications.
  • On Tuesday, Bitar charged former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, head of Lebanon’s domestic intelligence agency, and Maj. Gen. Tony Saliba, head of another security body, former army commander Jean Kahwaji, and some others. Bitar also released some of those detained immediately after the blast.
  • Also on Tuesday, Oweidat voiced opposition to Bitar, claiming he cannot proceed with the probe until the country’s judicial authorities officially rule on the matter. Oweidat is one of the eight officials charged by Bitar.
  • The Aug. 4 2020 Beirut Port blast was one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history and destroyed most of Beirut port and the neighborhoods surrounding it. The explosion killed more than 200 people and destroyed large swaths of the city.
  • The investigation into the blast has been mired by political deadlock from the very beginning, with a number of powerful critics lambasting it as either against the constitution or biased. The Iran-backed political party and militia, Hezbollah, along with its political allies, has continually denounced the investigation.

Sources: Al Jazeera (a), Associated Press,  Al Jazeera (b), Independent, and Times of Israel

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by The National News. Justice must be served for the victims of the port blast, even in the face of Hezbollah's intimidation tactics and constant interference. Hezbollah and its allies have absolutely no evidence that the investigation is biased, and their unending attacks suggest that they are fully aware that the inquiry, if undertaken, will find that Hezbollah-allied officials were fully complicit in the destruction of Beirut. The international community must continue to pressure the terrorist group, and the political class that it protects, to allow the investigation to continue.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Almanar. Though supporters of the investigation say they only care about the victims of the port blast, in reality, the whole inquiry is simply means to an end for the US and its European allies who want to pressure and attack the resistance. Bitar is a pro-Western pawn doing the bidding of foreign imperial powers that want to see Lebanon show subservience to Western interests. Thankfully, Hezbollah and the resistance as a whole are stronger than the Western agents abusing Lebanon's legal system.