| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

Aoun Criticizes ‘Shiite Duo’ over Port Explosion

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has criticized the Shiite Hezbollah-Amal duo without naming them, calling for putting an end to political meddling and legal loopholes that prevent judicial authorities from prosecuting, accusing, and condemning the perpetrators of the Aug. 2020 Beirut port explosion.

Aoun was speaking on Thursday during his meeting with a delegation that discussed the detention of former Customs chief Badri Daher in the same case.

The President also met with a delegation of families of persons arrested in the Beirut Port blast investigation.

The blast was caused by the detonation of hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a port warehouse for years, apparently with the knowledge of senior politicians and security officials who did nothing about it. The explosion killed at least 216 people, injured more than 6,500 others and destroyed parts of the city.

Members of the two delegations told Aoun on Thursday that they are waiting anxiously, as are the families of the victims and owners of the damaged private properties, for fair and just judicial decisions, according to the Lebanese presidency.

Aoun said that he is keen on ensuring the independence of the judicial authority in the prosecution, investigation, and judgment of crimes referred to the competent authority.

The President stressed that “there is a need for an indictment to be issued by the investigative judge when he gets liberated from the constraints imposed on him, under which the Judicial Council would practice its jurisdiction according to the indictment.”

The Council would then “acquit the detainees it finds to be innocent and condemn those responsible,” the President added.

Aoun noted that delayed justice is not justice, emphasizing that “it’s about time we knew the full truth about the circumstances of the disastrous explosion at Beirut’s port.”

He urged an end to the political exploitation, privileges, immunities, and legal loopholes preventing the relevant judicial authorities from practicing prosecution, accusation, and condemnation.

“Injustice is cruel, and it is unacceptable when justice is denied, restricted, partial or selective, due to political oppression and maliciousness.”

Aoun told the delegation that he would not stop until justice was achieved in this case, knowing that the “jurisprudence was found to fill the legal loopholes or to circumvent the artificial and malicious restrictions in the lawsuits.”

Finance Minister Youssef Khalil refuses to sign the partial judicial formations completed by the High Judicial Council, which included the judges of the cassation courts.

Failure to appoint the new judges impedes the mission of the judicial investigator, Judge Tariq al-Bitar.

The “Shiite duo” insists that ministers are tried before the High Council for the Trial of Presidents and Ministers and that the lawmakers enjoy immunity under their position in the parliament during ordinary or exceptional legislative sessions.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat