SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 1 December 2021, Wednesday |

Lebanon judges resign in protest against political interference

Three Lebanese judges have resigned as a result of political involvement in the judiciary’s work, including an investigation into last year’s Beirut bombing, according to a court source on Thursday.

In a society where political leaders pick judges, especially those on the highest courts, there is limited opportunity for the judiciary to oppose Lebanon’s governing class.

A study into last year’s massive port explosion has shown the extent of such intervention, with top authorities erecting a complicated web of judicial challenges to hinder chief investigator Tarek Bitar’s work.

Three female judges resigned on Wednesday “to protest…political involvement in the operation of the judiciary and the undermining of decisions issued by judges and courts,” according to a judicial source.

The president of the country’s highest court has yet to approve the resignations and has asked for a meeting to consider the subject, according to the source.

The resignations came after authorities filed dozens of cases against Bitar, as well as other judges hearing petitions for his removal from the bench from lawmakers.

Among those who quit this week was a judge who rejected down an official’s request to dismiss the investigator.

As a result, she was subjected to a review that called her choice into doubt.

“The frequent questioning of the judiciary’s verdicts is ruining its reputation,” the same court official said on condition of anonymity to AFP.

While it is the most visible, the Beirut bombing case is not the only one to have been influenced by political leaders.

A criminal investigation into allegations of tax evasion and unlawful enrichment leveled against central bank president Riad Salameh has also been halted due to a lawsuit filed against main investigator Jean Tannous.