Beirut Port blast case focus raises potential scandal in judicial ranks
A number of “Change” and opposition MPs on Friday held a wide meeting at the House of Parliament, during which they discussed the latest judicial developments.
In an issued statement read out by MP Waddah Sadek, they affirmed that “the Lebanese people have been witnessing since the morning of “Black Wednesday” a devastating coup that began with the assassination of justice through decisions and means that are illegitimate and surreal in the face of justice.”
They also stressed that "there is no bargaining over August 4 victims’ blood."
They also indicated that "this coup consecrates the power of an abominable police regime that we will never accept, and we derive our strength from a collective popular rally to build a state."
They pointed out that "what the judicial investigator in the Beirut Port blast case is being exposed to is intended to disrupt the course of justice," refusing attempts "to tamper with his powers."
As they denounced “the assaults on the people and their representatives in a barbaric scene that is not befitting of justice nor its custodians of politicians and judges," they called for "opening an investigation to uncover the circumstances of the attacks that took place, determine the identities of the perpetrators and their references, and inflict the most severe penalties on them."
They called on the Caretaker Minister of Justice "to be frank with the people about what happened to the judiciary and how to address the imbalance that afflicted it."
FORCES OF CHANGE COALITION
The Forces of Change Coalition in the Second North Circuit (Intifada) discussed, in its meeting, the “explosive situation in the judiciary and the situation it has reached after the scandal whose godfather was the Attorney General at the Court of Cassation, Judge Ghassan Oueidat.
Without legal justification, he returned to the Beirut Port bombing investigation after he had stepped down from the case due to a close relationship with one of the defendant politicians.
The statement continued: “Oueidat was not satisfied but put himself in the place of the judicial investigation judge, which is a precedent that the judicial body had not witnessed before. The defendants were released after he personally charged them in his capacity as the Public Prosecutor who represents the public right.”
The statement said that “what Judge Oueidat did” led to the final obstruction, even cancellation, of the investigation into the port blast, pressure and intimidation of the opposition to impose the election of the president adopted by the “Amal-Hezbollah” coalition and obscuring the unprecedented collapse of the national currency, looting and theft.
The statement added: “It is necessary to intensify communication with the sovereign and change-making representatives and the forces opposed to the authority with the aim of putting pressure on the government, in the street and in the relevant international forums to put an end” to what is happening. “The recent developments in the port bombing case have proven the correctness of heading towards an international court.”
The MTV media outlet learned that a judicial officer sent by the Public Prosecutor, Judge Ghassan Oueidat, to the house of the judicial investigator in the Beirut Port explosion case, Tarik Bitar, and told him: “President Oueidat wants to see you.” Bitar answered: “I am the one who wants to see him, and I am the defendant. I set for him a hearing in a few days.” The judicial officer then left Bitar’s house.
RELEASE FROM PRISON
The security services in Lebanon began implementing the decision issued by Lebanese Attorney-General Ghassan Oueidat to release all those imprisoned pending investigation into the Beirut port explosion.
Badri Daher, the Director General of Customs who was imprisoned pending the case on August 7, 2020, were released three days after the explosion.
Public Prosecutor Judge Ghassan Oueidat had issued a decision to release all those imprisoned pending investigations into the Beirut port explosion while banning them from travelling and placing them at the disposal of the Judicial Council.
It was also stated that investigating judge Tarik Bitar withdrew from the investigation, indicating that the investigating judge considered himself empowered by the powers of the Public Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation to take whatever measures he deems appropriates.
Judge Al-Bitar has returned to his office after a hiatus that lasted for more than 13 months due to the response requests submitted by defendants against the investigating judge on charges of non-compliance. Despite no decision on the requests, Judge Al-Bitar decided to charge eight new persons in the case, including the Public Prosecutor, three judges and two high-ranking security leaders. He also decided to release five prisoners pending investigations and the continuing imprisonment of 12 others.
Al-Bitar’s decision and his return to practice his work before deciding on the response requests sparked widespread controversy in judicial circles.
Judge Bitar confirmed that he was continuing to investigate the port blast until an indictment is issued.
He also indicated that the Public Prosecutor at the Court of Cassation, Judge Ghassan Oueidat, was recused from the case. As he is also a defendant, he cannot take any decision in this case.
Bitar also pointed out that “the decisions taken by Judge Oueidat regarding the release of the ‘Beirut Port blast case’ detainees are illegitimate and should not be implemented.”
It surprised that an unnamed party presented a statement, that a “defendant judge issues warrants to release detainees and allow the freedom of defendants in the same file in which he is accused.”
It was considered “an illegal and unprecedented step in the history of the Republic, accompanied by public threats and a claim against Judge Bitar, all of which require the immediate dismissal of the discriminatory public prosecutor, and the accountability of every negligent and instigator in the largest non-nuclear explosion in history, in addition to securing all support and protection for Judge Bitar”.