Reinstate Judge Bitar! We Need to Know Who Caused The Port Explosions Beirutis Demand

Published September 30th, 2021 - 10:47 GMT
Scuffle in Beirut
Activists and relatives of victims of the Beirut port explosion scuffle among themselves as Lebanese security members try to interfere during a demonstration on Wednesday outside the capital's Justice Palace, to protest the suspension of the investigation into the August 4, 2020 port explosion (AFP photo)

ALBAWABA – Hundreds of the families of the 218 victims that died in the Beirut Port explosions demonstrated outside the Palace of Justice in the Lebanese capital this week.

Their demand was to reinstate Judge Tarek Bitar who was earlier this week suspended from his investigation into the Port Blast pending appeal filed by the ex-Minister Nohad Machnouk who blamed the judge of bias.

The social media is going wild because of the story both by news website which are posting the suspension of the judge and the commentators who are posting their views on what is happening under different hashtags including (  #مرفأ_بيروت, #انفجار_مرفأ_بيروت, #لبنان, #لرفع_الحصانات_الان) and so on!

The blast, deemed to be the biggest non-nuclear explosion in the world caused by the unsafe storage of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate and triggered by a fire, resulted in the devastation of large areas of Beirut that injured around 7000 people and resulted in billions of dollars in damages.

After 13 months – the explosion was on 4 August 2020 – the families are extremely frustrated with the authorities for not moving on the investigation. Bitar is the second judge, he was appointed five months ago after the dismissal of Fadi Swan who wanted to question ministers, including the now ex-premier Hassan Diab about the explosion. Bitar is now facing the same problems. Former ministers, like Machnouk are stalling.  

Former Minister of Public Works and Transport Youssef Fenianos is also under investigation but refuses to be questioned and has also filed a complaint against judge Bitar. If the Court of Appeal adjudicates in their favor Bitar is likely to be dismissed and this is what the protestors don’t want.

They want the judge to be reinstated and get on with his investigations without outside political interference. As of yet this may not happen.

Writers in Arabic on the social media say “justice [is being] kidnapped in Beirut”, the “traders in blood continue to invest in the blood of the martyrs” while one tells the ex-minister “you will not run away with your corruption and negligence.”

The protestors are likely angry. They feel the investigation is slowly being buried with an enormous foot-dragging on the part of the government with one blaming the new Media Minister George Kirdahi for his comments about the fact “politicians should not be insulted, but did not say that the families of the victims have the right to find out who exploded Beirut."

Many as well are going after Hizbollah for seemingly obstructing the investigating with fingers pointing at the party for allegedly warning Al Bitar not to keep digging.The main aim of the protestors is to keep the pressure on to reinstate Judge Bitar and continue with the probe. 

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