A demonstration by the families of the victims of the Beirut port explosion is currently taking place in front of the home of the outgoing Minister of the Interior Mohammed Fahmi to ask that the latter agree to lift the immunity “of all persons summoned and suspected” .
This information comes as the minister refused to give authorization to investigative judge Tarek Bitar to question the director of general security, General Abbas Ibrahim on Friday. This one however went before the court of cassation which should rule on this request by July 26.
In addition to General Abbas Ibrahim, Judge Bitar would also like to question 3 deputies including the right-hand man of the Speaker of Parliament, Ali Hassan Khalil, former Minister of Finance and former Minister of Public Works Ghazi Zeaiter as well as the former Minister of interior Nouhad Machnouk, meanwhile close to Prime Minister designate Saad Hariri.
Also target of the judge, the outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab or the former commander of the Lebanese Army, General Jean Kahwaji are the subject of a request to be questioned.
The explosion of the port of Beirut
As a reminder, more than 200 people are reported to have died and more than 6,500 people were injured in the explosion that devastated the port of Beirut and much of the Lebanese capital on 4 August. 300,000 people are also reported to be homeless as a result of the explosion.
The trail of an accidental explosion, on August 4, 2020, of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate inside a warehouse in the port of Beirut, seized in 2014 on board a garbage ship, the Rhosus flying the Moldovan flag , is currently favored by the Lebanese authorities. This explosion would be equivalent to that of 600 tons of TNT or to an earthquake of 3.3 on the Richter scale.
It would thus have caused a crater 110 meters long and 43 meters deep, indicates, Sunday, August 9, a security source citing the words of French experts present on the spot.
Judge Tarek Bitar was then appointed on February 19 . Its name having already been proposed last August as part of the same procedure. At the time, however, he refused to become the investigative judge in the case of the tragedy of August 4, on the pretext of a heavy workload.
In early June, the new judge indicated that 3 hypotheses were examined after French experts have revealed the content of a preliminary report , that of a human error following a welding work which started a fire, an intentional fire or an explosion following the firing of a rocket.
According to the judge, one of these hypotheses would be ruled out by more than 80% following receipt of the report from the French experts which finally reached Lebanon.
There remain 2 hypotheses which are currently the subject of in-depth studies. Some sources indicate that these would be the hypotheses of an arson or accidental fire.
Beginning of July, Judge Tarek Bitar calls for the lifting of parliamentary immunity of a number of officials including the former Minister of Finance, Ali Hassan Khalil and the former Minister of Public Works, Ghazi Zeaiter, 2 close to the President of the Chamber of Deputies Nabih Berri as well as the former Minister of the Interior Nouhad Machnouk, all suspected of having been made aware of the presence of dangerous substances. He also requested permission to question a number of former officials and current officials of the security services including the director of general security, General Abbas Ibrahim or the former commander of the Lebanese army, the General Jean Kahwaji.
This Friday July 9, the parliamentary bureau and the parliamentary administration and justice committee have reportedly postponed the decision to lift the immunity of the parliamentarians concerned , asking for more information on this.