ZAHLE, Lebanon – After having completed hearings, investigative judge Tariq Bitar has taken serious steps in his investigations into the August 2020 Beirut port explosion by demanding the lifting of immunity of high-ranking politicians, including the caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, and military and security officials. Bitar sent a letter to Lebanese parliament and the Beirut and Tripoli Bar Associations, requesting the lifting of parliamentary immunity of ministers who were former lawyers for them to be interrogated for possible crimes and negligence.
The Beirut Port explosion was caused because of the irresponsible storage of tons of ammonium nitrate inside the Beirut port. The massive explosion killed hundreds, wounded thousands, and destroyed the already fragile infrastructure of Beirut and Lebanon.
Secretary General of the Universal Syriac Union Party (USUP) in Lebanon and lawyer Michel Mallo told Syriac Satellite Channel Suroyo TV in an interview on Sunday, that USUP from the beginning has held Hezbollah and its proxy Lebanese government directly and indirectly responsible for the explosion.
“Their indirect responsibility is neglect, recklessness, the random appointment of inexperienced and incompetent people to sensitive administrative positions within the port, the international airport, and all departments of the Lebanese state. Their direct responsibility is the complete domination by Hezbollah of the economy of the port, border crossings and the state as a whole.”
Mallo indicated that Hezbollah was able to import the explosive material ammonium nitrate because it is the only non-state armed actor in Lebanon. It has established its own state within the Lebanese state.
As for Bitar’s judicial decision to lift imunity, Michel Mallo declared that his party values the efforts of honorable judges who try to bring about change to the current misery and deadlock. The first step of change begins with the judiciary. Judicial sessions against officials must be taken serious. Else culprits will evade accountability like they have done in many previous important criminal cases in which witnesses and judges were threatened or otherwise persuaded. Mallo, himself a lawyer, demanded to also summon other officials to appear before the court, including the President, Prime Minister, and Members of Parliament. They all have done nothing, he said, while they knew of the presence of the dangerous materials in the port of Beirut.
Communications between Lebanese officials and responsible politicians prove that they were aware of the dangers, especially Prime Minister Hassan Diab. Diab canceled a visit to the port weeks before the disaster because “Diab received a message that included warnings about the presence of high explosive material in the port,” Mallo said.