Families of Beirut blast victims stage protest

The aftermath of the Aug 4, 2020 blast.

BEIRUT – Dozens of Lebanese people gathered on Wednesday, in protest against the latest attempts to dismiss Judge Tarek Bitar, who was conducting the investigation into the last year’s deadly port explosion.

Relatives of the victims gathered outside the country’s justice ministry in the capital to show support for the judge and to urge for the investigation, according to Anadolu Agency (AA).

Advertisement

The protesters also raised pictures of the victims who were killed in the explosion and banners with slogans condemning the delay in investigation.

Anger has brewed in Lebanon over the government’s failure to hold officials accountable for the Aug 4, 2020 blast, which was caused when over 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at the port exploded.

The explosion killed more than 200 people, injured some 6,000 more, and left some 300,000 homeless as it wreaked extensive damage across the capital.

As the country marked the first anniversary of the explosion this year, Lebanese people still feel unsafe over the blast’s investigation.

On July 2, 2021, judge Tariq Bitar asked to lift immunity of three Lebanese lawmakers, but the parliament requested further documents and clarifications before moving to lift immunity.

Interior Minister Mohammad Fehmi rejected a request by Bitar to question Abbas Ibrahim, head of the General Security Directorate, and State Security Chief Toni Saliba over the blast. Bitar also requested to question former army commander Jean Kahwaji and other former high rank army officials.

However, currently Bitar is accused of bias by the political leadership.