Opposition, change MPs deplore 'black Wednesday', slam Oueidat moves as 'surreal'


Opposition and change MPs called Friday in a joint statement for the resumption of the Beirut port blast probe, refusing the appointment of an alternate judge and urging for an indictment to be issued as soon as possible.

MP Waddah al-Sadek who spoke on behalf of the MPs demanded that Public Prosecutor Judge Ghassan Oueidat be held accountable over his latest "flagrant violations."

The MPs also called for open-ended parliamentary sessions until the election of a president.

Oueidat had on Wednesday charged Judge Tarek Bitar with "usurping power" and insubordination, and slapped him with a travel ban, after the latter decided, in a surprise move, to resume his investigation after a 13-month hiatus, charging eight new suspects including high-level security officials and Oueidat.

The MPs called it a "black Wednesday" and a judicial coup d'etat and dubbed Oueidat's decisions as "illegal" and "surreal."

The Higher Judicial Council, was scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss the latest developments in the inquest. Advocates for Bitar, who include many of the families of the blast victims, feared the council would issue a decision to remove the maverick judge from the probe, but the session was canceled under popular pressure.

Ahead of the canceled session, several demonstrators were wounded as police pushed the crowds back from outside Beirut's historical Palace of Justice, and beat some people with batons.

Chaos also ensued Thursday inside the Justice Palace, after over a dozen legislators from reformist and traditional opposition parties met with caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury.

The heated meeting about the recent developments in the Beirut port probe led to scuffles with the minister’s guards who allegedly tried to snatch their phones as they filmed the meeting. Some of them say they were attacked, and have called for Khoury to resign.

"We condemn the barbaric attack on the people and their representatives in a way that does not befit justice," Sadek said.

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