| 27 May 2024, Monday |

Parliament continues besieging Bitar, rejects reporting memorandums of Machnouk, Khalil and Zuaiter

Parties affected by the investigation into the crime of Beirut Port explosion continue to obstruct the course of justice, and circumvent the judicial investigator, Judge Tariq Bitar’s decisions, and the latest episodes of this obstruction, what informed judicial sources revealed to “Sawt Beirut International” about the refusal of the General Secretariat of the House of Representatives to receive notification notes, written by Bitar, according to which he summoned the representatives, Nohad Al-Machnouk, Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zuaiter, for questioning as defendants in investigative sessions that he set on September 30 and October 1.

The same sources confirmed that the General Secretariat of the Parliament “returned the notification note to the Public Prosecution of Discrimination, justifying this by the lack of jurisdiction of the judicial investigator to prosecute these representatives for the crimes of negligence and carelessness attributed to them, and that the authority rests exclusively with the Supreme Council for the trial of presidents and ministers.”

Judge Bitar had accused Mashnouq as a former Minister of Interior, Ali Hassan Khalil as a former Minister of Finance, and Ghazi Zuaiter as a former Minister of Public Works, after they received correspondence informing them of the presence of thousands of ammonium nitrate at Beirut port, and they did not take any action to remove these materials. Last week, Bitar issued an arrest warrant in absentia against the former Minister of Public Works, Youssef Fenianos, for failing to appear before him to be questioned.

This refusal, comes as a continuation of a previous Parliamentary stance, in which it was announced that the judicial judiciary did not have jurisdiction to investigate former Prime Minister Hassan Diab and former Minister of Works Youssef Fenianos. In this context, Bitar will not remain idle. According to information, the judicial investigator “may resort to informing the aforementioned deputies in their places of residence, and if this is not possible, he will go to inform them pasted, as he did with Hassan Diab,” noting that Bitar “will not leave the deadline that separates him from October 19 next (date of the regular session of Parliament) passes, without him interrogating them.”

Meanwhile, the Criminal Court of Cassation, headed by Judge Randa Kfoury, began informing the port file’s parties, of the content of lawsuit filed by the defense attorneys for Youssef Fenianos, in which they requested that the case be transferred from Bitar to another judge. “Sawt Beirut International learned, that the first to receive a copy, were the Judicial Investigator and the Public Prosecution of Cassation, after which they will inform the plaintiffs and the defendants the content of the case, and express their opinions before the decisive court decision is issued.