Beirut explosion justice postponed as renewed inquiry is rejected

Lebanon's top public prosecutor on Wednesday charged the Beirut port blast investigating judge and ordered the release of those detained in connection with the explosion, after rejecting the judge's surprise resumption of the probe.

The moves by Ghassan Oweidat signal escalating opposition by Lebanon's ruling establishment to efforts by Judge Tarek Bitar to reopen the probe into the Aug. 4, 2020, blast that killed more than 220 people.

In a text message exchange with Reuters, Oweidat said he had summoned Bitar for questioning but did not specify whether he had charged him. Bitar said he had been charged but did not give details.

A judicial source had earlier said Oweidat had filed charges against Bitar over alleged wrongdoing in his handling of the probe.

Bitar on Monday unexpectedly resumed his investigation into the explosion after high-level political interference and legal complaints had paralysed the probe for more than a year.

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He also charged top current and former officials including Oweidat without specifying the charges against the top prosecutor.

For Lebanese desperate to see accountability over the explosion, Bitar symbolizes hope that justice may one day be served in a country where impunity has long been the norm.

(Reuters)


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