The United States government has denounced the “intimidation” of the Lebanese Shiite militia party Hezbollah against the judge investigating the explosions in the port of Beirut in August 2020, stating that the group’s “terrorist and illegal” actions “promote security and stability threaten”. of the country.
“We oppose intimidation of the judiciary in any country and support Lebanon’s judicial independence. Judges must be free from threats and intimidation, including from Hezbollah,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.
He stressed that Washington believes that “Hezbollah cares more about its own interests and those of its employer Iran than those of the Lebanese people,” and called for a “quick and transparent” investigation into the explosion, which left more behind 200 deaths and enormous property damage.
Price also said that Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland would visit Lebanon “to continue important bilateral talks with the Lebanese authorities, but also in other contexts, with Saudi and French partners and in a trilateral format with both”.
In doing so, he stressed that these meetings value the “much-needed humanitarian aid” provided by the Lebanese people while supporting “the formation of a stable and inclusive government that responds to the profound needs of the Lebanese people”.
Price’s words came after the investigation into Judge Tarek Bitar was reopened after several former ministers re-called for his dismissal to testify for their alleged negligence.
Bitar on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for former minister Alí Hasán Jalil after he failed to appear for questioning, although shortly after he was informed of the termination of the investigation by the new lawsuit, by Jalil himself and also by former minister Ghazi Zeaiter was submitted. The courts have previously dismissed several lawsuits against Bitar.
The investigation was reopened after Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah harshly accused Bitar of “selective” and “politicized” positions. He called for him to be replaced “by a transparent and honest judge” and added that the families “will not learn the truth with this judge”.
Nasralá warned that “if the judge continues to act like this, the country could plunge into a major disaster” and reiterated that “what happens in the investigation of the explosion in the port has nothing to do with justice or the law”.
“What is happening in the investigation is a very, very, very, very big mistake and we are not going to accept the matter going on for the next few days,” he said. “It has to resolve the matter, and if not, the government has to resolve it,” he said.
Over the past few months, civil unrest has increased over the blockade of investigations and delays in the disfranchisement of former ministers and parliamentarians whom Judge Bitar has called as witnesses in the investigation, including Diab, who resigned after the explosions, and remained in office until an agreement was reached in September on the formation of the new government.