Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah expressed Saturday his party’s unhappiness with the current Beirut blast probe and hinted at the possible removal of the investigating judge if he did not comply with the militant party’s wishes.
Nasrallah warned against “politicizing” the probe into the deadly port blast last year. “The investigation is politicised,” Nasrallah said. “Either he must work… in a clear manner or the judiciary must find another judge.”
Nasrallah wants judge Bitar to present proof in his investigation of the port explosion, but opposes his efforts to question officials—presumably to get the proof he needs to advance his investigation. If Hezbollah wanted to look guiltier, it couldn’t: https://t.co/Q8ygXeGgsp— Michael Young (@BeirutCalling) August 9, 2021
In February, Bitar’s predecessor was removed by a court, which had questioned his impartiality because his home had been damaged in the explosion.
From his speech, Nasrallah showed his party had no intent to help the judge carry out his probe. He called on the magistrate to provide proof to back up his decision to summon current and former officials for questioning in the case.
“Where is the evidence?” he said, calling on Judge Tareq Bitar to share the results.
The judge is demanding that parliament lift the immunity of three former ministers so he can proceed with investigations, but lawmakers have requested more evidence before deciding on whether to waive immunity.
Bitar has rejected parliament’s request.
The caretaker interior minister also did not allow Bitar to question top intelligence official Abbas Ibrahim over the blast.
Nasrallah spoke after Lebanon on Wednesday marked one year since hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser exploded at a Beirut port warehouse, killing at least 214 people and wrecking swathes of the city.
He rejected accusations that the group was involved in bringing explosive fertiliser to the dockside
Nasrallah's stance on the Beirut blast investigation has settled on the wonderfully circular position of "we won't let you question officials to gather evidence until you present evidence that lets you question officials" https://t.co/mHvhs1z1nW— Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) August 9, 2021
Lebanese analysts had said the militant Shia was involved in bringing the substance to the port so it could be transported to neighbouring Syria for its ally the Damascus government to use in barrel bombs during the Syrian civil war.
“As if Hezbollah which has weapons and rockets… needs to bring in nitrate,” said the head of the Iran-backed group.
“As if, with its warehouses to fit tens of thousands of rockets, it did not have warehouses in which to put the nitrate.”
He dismissed the accusations as “political targeting paid for by America and Saudi Arabia in service of Israel”.
It emerged after the explosion that officials had known the ammonium nitrate had been lingering at the port for years.
A local probe was launched into the disaster but has stalled, with families of the victims and survivors growing increasingly angry and accusing politicians, including Hezbollah leaders, of trying to hamper it at every turn.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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