Bitar goes to Justice Palace, reportedly meets with Abboud
Beirut port blast investigator Judge Tarek Bitar on Wednesday went to his office at the Justice Palace in Beirut, the state-run National News Agency reported.
LBCI television meanwhile reported that Bitar met at the Palace with Higher Judicial Council chief Judge Suheil Abboud with the aim of “finding a certain solution for the Beirut port blast case.”
It added that Abboud has also met with caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury and State Prosecutor Judge Ghassan Oueidat.
MTV meanwhile denied that Bitar met with Abboud on Wednesday.
Bitar took Lebanon by surprise on January 23 when he resumed his investigation after a 13-month hiatus, charging eight new suspects including high-level security officials and Lebanon's top prosecutor Oueidat. Bitar also scheduled interrogation sessions for ex-PM Hassan Diab and former ministers who had been previously charged.
Bitar said he based his decision on a legal review that he himself conducted. A top security official meanwhile said that the Lebanese judiciary had come under U.S. pressure to free detainees in the case, including dual Lebanese-U.S. citizen Ziad al-Ouf.
The week before reopening the case, Bitar had met with two French judges for hours about his investigation. According to a judicial official, the delegation suggested Bitar should resume work, arguing that holding suspects in detention without trial was a human rights violation.
Bitar's surprise move sparked a judicial battle with Oueidat, who retaliated by charging the judge with "usurping power" and insubordination and slapping him with a travel ban. A defiant Bitar meanwhile stressed that he would not step down, adding that Oueidat "has no authority" to intervene in the case.
Media reports meanwhile said that Army chief General Joseph Aoun has advised Bitar to “stay home and not go to the Justice Palace – neither in Beirut nor in Jdeideh -- out of concern that he might get arrested by the State Security agency under the excuse of bringing him to interrogation before the state prosecutor.”
Maybe General Joseph Aoun wants to stay home and not go to work ... especially as the work that needs to be done seems beyond his abilities to perform in the nation's interest.
+1/Bitar and everyone he holds closely.