French channel broadcast docuseries investigating Hezbollah, Beirut blast 'links'
A French broadcaster has released a three-part docuseries examining Lebanese paramilitary group Hezbollah and its alleged ties to the 2020 Beirut Blast. Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the events that led to the blast, widely blamed on explosives stored unsafely at the port. However, Hezbollah has blocked efforts to investigate the deadly explosion, claiming the leading Judge Tarek Bitar was politicised.
France 5 titled the series, which was broadcasted on Sunday, ‘Hezbollah, l’enquete interdite’, which translates to ‘Hezbollah, the prohibited investigation’.
The Beirut blast was one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history, and destroyed much of the Beirut port and surrounding areas, killing over 215 people and injuring more than 6,500.
"For nearly forty years, Hezbollah has challenged justice … despite pressure from the streets and the international community, Hezbollah rejects any independent investigation into the causes of the explosion," France 5's docuseries say.
"This series tells how the [Shia] Islamic group patiently built a state within a state in Lebanon… two years of investigations, dozens of hours of interviews and exclusive archives tell [their] forbidden story," the broadcaster adds.
Each episode in the series, directed by Jerome Fritel and Sofia Amara, is almost one hour long, and is available to viewers based in France to watch on demand until August.
Judge Tarek Bitar resumed his probe into the blast last month after a 13-month hiatus amid vehement political and legal pushback from Hezbollah and other political parties, which now threatens to derail the investigation once again.
A Hezbollah political adviser, Hussein al-Khalil, said last month that Bitar's investigation was a "black stain" on Lebanese judicial history.
Bitar was scoolded by Hezbollah officials in late 2021, with officials reportedly warning him that the investigation should not produce unfavourable results for the militia and political party.
Lebanon’s Court of Cassation had blocked Bitar from continuing his investigation since December 2021 after officials he had summoned for questioning filed complaints accusing the judge of "political bias".
Former Lebanese President Michel Aoun said days after the blast that he knew about the huge stockpile of explosive material stored at Beirut's port nearly three weeks before it blew up, but said he had no authority over the facility.
So far no one has been prosecuted for the deadly explosion, and most suspects were released last month.