Beirut explosion victims' relatives storm Justice Palace, demand case be resumed

Beirut explosion victims' relatives storm Justice Palace, demand case be resumed
The families of victims of the Beirut explosion stormed the city's Justice Palace on Thursday, angered over slow progress in the case.
2 min read
10 February, 2022
Politicians have continued to hinder the investigations 18 months after the explosion [Getty- archive]

Relatives of victims of the 2020 Beirut port explosion stormed the city’s Justice Palace on Thursday, angered by hindrances to the inquiry by politicians and officials wanted for questioning.

Accompanied by protesters, the relatives - who carried pictures of their loved ones and Lebanese flags - managed to enter the building after police tried unsuccessfully to hold them back.

They demanded Judge Rola al-Masry make a decision on appeals brought against investigative judge Tarek Bitar, so that the latter can resume his work on the case.

Judge Bitar has been unable to preside over the case since December, pending a final decision.

President of the Supreme Judicial Council Souheil Abboud met with the families and reassured them that "the judiciary was carrying out its responsibilities in accordance with the law," local media quoted the relatives as saying.

Earlier this week, the families blocked a road close to the Justice Palace and promised to escalate if the judiciary does not make a decision.

They have repeatedly decried the lack of progress over the blast investigation, 18 months after the massive blast.

Live Story

Some 2,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded at the Port of Beirut on 4 August 2020, killing around 220 people and wounding over 6,000. It also damaged large swathes of the Lebanese capital.

Despite state promises to charge those responsible "within days," no official has yet been arrested in connection with the blast.

Officials have accused Judge Tarek Bitar of politicising the case, and have refused to attend hearings.

Lebanon’s two main Shia political groups, Hezbollah and the Amal movement, have tried to have Judge Bitar removed from the case.