Lebanon
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Oueidat says his move was to avoid 'bloodshed on the streets'

State Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat has said that his latest controversial procedures that defied Judge Tarek Bitar’s measures in the port blast case were aimed at “avoiding bloodshed on the streets.”

“I prevented blood on the streets, but I don’t know if I’ve only postponed it should the situation continue as it is,” Oueidat said, in remarks to al-Joumhouria newspaper published Friday.

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Beirut blast probe suspended, restarted, now stalled again  

When a massive explosion killed more than 215 people at Beirut's port in 2020, Lebanese officials promised a swift investigation that would bring culprits to justice within days.

But more than two years later, the probe has been repeatedly stalled, with lead investigator Tarek Bitar accused this week of insubordination for resuming the probe and charging top officials.

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Timeline: Lebanon in dire straits since 2019

Lebanon, which is in a deep economic, social and political crisis, is also witnessing a major showdown between a judge investigating a devastating explosion and the country's top prosecutor.

Here is a recap of events since protests erupted in October 2019:

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Central bank freezes accounts of US-sanctioned individuals

Lebanon's central bank said Thursday it has frozen the accounts of a foreign exchange trader and his sons, after the U.S. sanctioned them this week over links to Hezbollah.

The central bank "took a decision to freeze all the accounts" of Hassan Moukalled as well as those of his sons Rayyan and Rani and two businesses that he owns, it said in a statement.

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Freed port blast detainee arrives in US shortly after release

The director of the Security and Safety Dept. at Beirut’s port, who was released from detention Wednesday at State Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat’s order, has arrived in the United States.

A dual American-Lebanese citizen, the director, Mohammed Ziad al-Ouf, was among 17 port case detainees freed on Wednesday in a move disputed by the lead investigative judge in the case Judge Tarek Bitar.

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'Not Hezbollah's candidate': Franjieh wants to be 'consensual' president

Marada leader chief Suleiman Franjieh met Thursday with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkerki.

"I'm not Hezbollah's candidate, I'm seeking to be a consensual candidate," Franjieh said.

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UK defense senior advisor conducts visit to Lebanon

The UK Defense Senior Advisor to the Middle East and North Africa (DSAME) Air Marshal Martin Sampson conducted a three-day visit to Lebanon from 23 to 25 January.

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Abdel Massih: Justice minister's bodyguards assaulted MPs

Chaos 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.

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Oueidat denies Bitar removal on agenda of Higher Judicial Council

State Prosecutor Judge Ghassan Oueidat has denied that the Higher Judicial Council would discuss removing Beirut port blast investigator Judge Tarek Bitar from his post in the meeting that it will hold on Thursday.

In remarks to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Oueidat also said that he does not rule out that Bitar might “commit a lot of legal violations in the coming days, including the issuance of an in-absentia arrest warrant” against him and other judges.

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Blast victims' relatives rally for embattled probe judge

Scores of protesters Thursday scuffled with riot police in Beirut as they tried to break into the Justice Palace.

Security was tight at the palace of justice in Beirut as activists and families of the port blast victims rallied in front of the Justice Palace ahead of a Higher Judicial Council to support the judge investigating the disaster.

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