On Monday, the Lebanese judiciary temporarily froze the investigations conducted by Tariq Al-Bitar, the judicial investigator in the case of the Beirut port explosion, after a request to replace it by former Interior Minister Nouhad Al-Machnouk.
And “Al-Machnouk” is a current deputy in Parliament and one of the four former ministers whom Judge Bitar charged last July 2 in the case of the port explosion, and requested that his parliamentary immunity be lifted in preparation for his investigation.
And the National News Agency (official) stated, “From this moment, Bitar suspended his investigations and all procedures related to the file until the Court of Appeal in Beirut decided whether to accept or reject the request of “Al-Machnouk”.
Al-Mashnouq’s media office had announced last Friday in a statement that he had submitted, through his attorney, Naoum Farah, a request before the Court of Appeal in Beirut to respond to Judge Al-Bitar and appoint another judicial investigator in his place.
Al-Machnouk’s request was based on the fact that “Al-Bitar bypassed the Lebanese constitution,” which gave the power to accuse ministers to the Parliament alone. The request also stipulated that the trial should take place before the Supreme Council for the Trial of Presidents and Ministers, and not before the judicial judiciary.
On August 4, 2020, an explosion occurred in the port, killing 217 people and wounding about 7,000 others, as well as causing massive material damage to residential and commercial buildings.
On July 2, Judge Bitar had charged 4 Lebanese officials, including Machnouk, former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, and 6 senior security officers, including former army chief Jean Kahwagi.