Lebanon’s attorney general has indicted the judge investigating the 2020 Beirut port explosion. Investigating judge Tarek Bitar has been charged with ‘rebellion against the judiciary’, a judicial official quoted by the AFP news agency.

“The Attorney General Ghassan Oueidat has indicted investigating judge Tarek Bitar and banned him from traveling for rebellion against justice,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, reports citing unnamed judicial sources said that along with Judge Tarek Bitar, three other judges involved in the investigation into the Beirut explosion would be charged. It remains unclear whether the other three judges have been charged so far or not.

Why is Judge Tarek Bitar being prosecuted?

During his investigation, Bitar indicted the head of the Lebanese domestic intelligence agency, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, and Major General Tony Saliba, head of another Lebanese security agency, in connection with the Beirut explosion. Judge Bitar, however, did not specify any charges.

All three have denied any wrongdoing related to the explosion.

Politicians accused by Tarek Bitar, including allies of the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah, have launched legal challenges that have resisted Bitar’s efforts to question them.

The investigation was crippled in early 2022 due to the retirement of judges from a tribunal that was supposed to adjudicate legal challenges brought against Bitar’s investigation by various questioning subjects.

In the past, Hezbollah campaigned against Bitar as it sought to interrogate its allies and accused the United States of interfering in the investigation. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has called for his replacement.

(With contributions from agencies)

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