The “legitimate suspicion” lawsuit, which was filed by the defense team of the Former Minister of Public Works and Transport Youssef Fenianos, against the judicial investigator in the Beirut port explosion case, Judge Tarek Bitar, opened the door wide for a legal confrontation with Bitar.
This was coupled with a security confrontation represented by threatening Bitar due to the measures he took in the past few days. Defense attorneys Nazih Khoury and Tony Franjieh for former Minister Youssef Fenianos, filed a lawsuit before the Criminal Court of Cassation, requesting that the investigation in the port explosion case shall be transferred from Bitar’s hand to the custody of another judge due to “legitimate suspicion” in Bitar’s performance. They also asked the court to take an urgent decision to stop all procedures taken by the judicial investigator until the case is decided.
In an indication of the high pace of the legal war, reinforced by the security threat from the party, which is expected to escalate significantly in the next stage, the Former ministers and current MPs, Nohad Mashnouk, Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zaiter did not hide their intention to take the same course that Fenianos took to evade prosecution before the judicial judiciary, and to follow the same path and adopt the same reasons given by the Minister of the “Marada Movement”. The two attorneys of the latter have confirmed in the lawsuit they filed, that Bitar “committed a number of violations mainly issuing an arrest warrant in absentia against the former minister, including rejecting the formal defenses submitted by them and not considering the authority of the Supreme Council for the Trial of Presidents and Ministers to prosecute the minister if it is proven that he committed the alleged crimes.
Sources told Sawt Beirut International (SBI) that the ‘suspicion lawsuit’ also dealt with “the judicial investigator’s ignoring of the letter of the General Secretariat of the Parliament, which confirms that the Judicial Council does not have authority to trial the Prime Minister and ministers.
Attorneys Khoury and Franjieh stressed that Bitar “violated the rules of criminal trials in the session held on September 13, and as a result issued an arrest warrant in absentia against Fenianos, despite his pledge to appear before the judicial investigator in the next session.” They stressed that “the path applied by the judicial investigator will not lead to the truth.”
For the second day in a row, the threatening message sent by “Hezbollah” to the judicial investigator obtained judicial, political and popular follow-up. Informed sources confirmed that “Hezbollah’s threats were conveyed by the head of the security and liaison unit in the party, Wafiq Safa, to Judge Bitar through a person.” The information revealed that the Head of Prosecution Department at the Court of Cassation Judge Ghassan Oweidat, “received an answer from Bitar to his letter, and the answer showed that the threat is real, but this will not deter the judicial investigator from continuing his investigations to the end.”
This dangerous development dictated an urgent meeting between Minister of Justice Henry Khoury and Judge Bitar, where the minister asked him about the information being circulated through the media, which is related to a threat to his personal security. Minister of Justice announced that he would follow up on this matter with the competent judicial references.