Relatives of Beirut blast victims protest after prosecutor’s decision
Beirut, Jan 26 (EFE).- Families of the victims of the 2020 Beirut port explosion rallied Thursday outside Lebanon’s justice palace to protest the top prosecutor’s decision to file charges against the judge investigating the case.
Public prosecutor Ghassan Oweidat on Wednesday accused Tarik Bitar of rebelling against the justice system and ordered the release of all detainees held in connection with the huge blast at the port of Beirut that killed more than 200 people and injured 6,500, a move that shocked the victims’ relatives.
Protesters held photos of their deceased loved ones, as well as placards that read “After you until justice is served” and “Let the police regime fall.”
On Monday, Bitar said that he was resuming the investigation into the case it had been suspended for more than a year due to a series of complaints filed by former high-ranking officials suspected of negligence in the case.
After his announcement, the judicial investigator ordered the release of five of the 17 suspects linked to the blast and called a number of suspects, including Oweidat himself, former prime minister Hassan Diab, several former ministers and senior officials, to testify.
“What they did yesterday is a violation of justice, 100% a violation of justice. We do not need anyone to control us, we just need the truth about August 4 (the date of the explosion) and that is why we will always be in the streets demanding justice,” activist Lina Boubess told Efe.
“It’s everyone’s right to have access to justice. Both those released and the victims need a conclusion, so they have to let the judge do his work and make a decision on who is guilty, and who is not,” said Boubess, who was carrying a photo of Alexandra Naggear, one of the youngest victims of the port explosion.
Various human rights organizations condemned Oweidat’s decision to charge Bitar, and the repeated obstructions of the investigation.
Among those who attended the protest was MP and presidential candidate Michel Moawad, who has called for an international investigation due to the lack of progress.EFE