Khalil, Zoaiter Say Ready to be Questioned by Bitar
Former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil and ex-public works minister Ghazi Zoaiter have issued a joint statement saying they are ready to be questioned by lead investigative judge Tarek al-Bitar in the Beirut port blast probe.
Noting that they heard about the judge’s request to question them through the media, Khalil and Zoaiter said that they are both ready to appear before Bitar even before a permission is issued by parliament to have their immunity lifted.
They added that they want to cooperate in order "to help in reaching the truth and specify responsibilities regarding this crime."
Khalil and Zoaiter are members of the bloc of Lebanon's powerful Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and along with Youssef Fenianos, another ex-minister facing prosecution, are strong allies of Hizbullah.
Bitar was named to lead the investigation in February after his predecessor, Fadi Sawwan, was removed following legal challenges by Khalil and Zoaiter.
Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab had also refused to appear before Sawwan, arguing that he was being “singled out.” Diab was summoned again by Bitar on Friday.
Bitar also announced Friday that he will prosecute ex-interior minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq, General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim, State Security head Tony Saliba, ex-army chief Jean Qahwaji, ex-military intelligence head Camille Daher, two ex-military intelligence officers and several judges.