Lebanon court dismisses case against Beirut blast judge, allowing probe to resume

The probe into last year's catastrophic Beirut port blast that left over 200 dead was suspended this week

  
A general view shows the site of the 2020 Beirut port explosion, Lebanon October 13, 2021.

A general view shows the site of the 2020 Beirut port explosion, Lebanon October 13, 2021.

Reuters/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT - A Lebanese court on Thursday dismissed a legal complaint brought against the lead investigator of last year's Beirut port blast probe, allowing him to resume work, court documents showed.

The probe into the catastrophic August explosion, which killed more than 200, was suspended this week following the complaint by two top politicians, one of whom lead judge Tarek Bitar had issued an arrest warrant for.

Bitar has been under enormous pressure from groups that accuse his investigation of bias and have mounted a smear campaign against him that spilled over into cabinet on Tuesday, tipping the country into a new crisis as it battles an economic meltdown.  

The powerful Iran-backed Shi'ite Hezbollah group has led calls for Bitar's removal and accused him of being politicised, and plans protests alongside the Shi'ite Amal movement on Thursday in Beirut to demand that he go.

This week's complaint was the latest in a series filed against Bitar him by various politicians he wanted to question over their knowledge of the chemicals that triggered the explosion after having been stored unsafely at the port for years.

It was brought forward by former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil and former public works minister Ghazi Zeiter.

Bitar had issued an arrest warrant for Khalil, the right-hand man of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri - the most senior Shi'ite in the state - and a close Hezbollah ally, shortly before the investigation was suspended.

(Writing By Maha El Dahan; Editing by Toby Chopra and John Stonestreet) ((Maha.Dahan@thomsonreuters.com; + 9712 4082101; Reuters Messaging: maha.dahan.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))


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