According to a court source, the investigation into last year’s devastating Beirut port bomb has been authorized to proceed after being halted for more than a month due to legal claims against its primary investigator, judge Tarek Bitar.
On Tuesday, a Beirut court dismissed the final of the suits prohibiting Bitar from interviewing key officials.
“They have reversed the judgment that resulted in the suspension of the investigation, and he may now resume his job without hesitation,” Nizar Saghieh, chairman of the Legal Agenda, a research and advocacy organization, told Reuters.
According to him, the restart might be temporary if more legal concerns are made.
The inquiry into the Aug. 4, 2020, explosion, which killed more than 215 people, wounded hundreds, and damaged significant swaths of the city, has made little progress due to opposition from influential groups, some of whom have led smear campaigns and launched various lawsuits against Bitar.
The leader of the Iranian-backed, armed Shia Muslim organization Hezbollah has repeatedly stated that Bitar should be removed from the case, and the dispute has overflowed into government, with Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s cabinet unable to convene since Oct. 12.
Many Lebanese are outraged that, more than a year after the bomb, no top official has been held accountable for the country’s biggest peace-time calamity, as it descends into political and economic chaos.
Since July, Bitar has attempted to interrogate key politicians, including former ministers and members of parliament, but virtually all have refused to answer his questions.
He is the second judge to assume command of the probe, following the removal of his predecessor, Fady Sawan, in February due to a legal complaint about his prejudice.