About Tarek Bitar’s Suspicious Practices

 February 2, 2023

Illustratrive image prepared by Al-Manar Website on the Beirut Port blast probe.

Zoulfikar Daher*

Undoubtedly, the August 4 Beirut Port Blast left an indelible scar on the city and all Lebanese people, as it led to dozens of innocent victims, including tens of martyrs and wounded. The largest non-nuclear blast in modern history also destroyed buildings and houses and led the country to a new adversity from which we couldn’t get through, until now.

Beirut Port a day after huge blasts took place in (Wednesday, August 5, 2020).

As truth is the real desire of all Lebanese people, one who follows up on the probe into  the blast, as well as the news circulating about the issue can raise several questions and concerns about the work of Judge Tariq Al-Bitar, the judicial investigator in the case, who hasn’t shown the needed effort yet.

These questions include:

  • Not adopting unified standards for conducting investigations and summons of security political and judicial figures, as it is apparent that he is acting in a manner that is contrary to judicial and legal rules. If he wants to be objective, he should have summoned all or many of those in ministerial, administrative, and security roles, including prime ministers, ministers, military and security commanders, and judges. As a result, why is he pursuing a discretionary strategy with prime ministers or others?
  • What about Al Bitar’s statements that are unacceptable in judicial work, and that are aired in the media frequently? The judicial investigator must refrain from making any statements to the media or attempting to engage in the mediasphere, whether positively or negatively, in a way that affects the country’s status quo and what may be interpreted as conveying political or non-political messages to one or more parties, particularly in a colossal case like the Beirut port blast. Rather, the judge must abstain from any political, media, and public influence.
  • Why was Judge Al Bitar away for more than a year without taking the initiative to act in the port blast case? And why did he resume work now? Did he consider himself incapable of achieving anything? Was the decision to return to work a brainchild of him? Also, does the jurisprudence on which he returned to work authorize him to release some detainees and keep others? Does this jurisprudence authorize him to summon security officials or judges without adhering to the necessary administrative and legal principles?
  • Why did Judge Al Bitar file a lawsuit against the Public Prosecutor of Cassation, Judge Ghassan Oweidat? Knowing that the Article 354 of the Lebanese Code of Criminal Procedure has set specific principles for the prosecution and trial of the Public Prosecutor of Cassation. Therefore, there is no room for diligence in the clear text exhibition
Ghassan Oweidat, Lebanon’s top Public Prosecutor (photo from archive).
  • Judge Al Bitar refrained from publishing technical investigations that would have substantially clarified the scene to the public, although the law doesn’t prohibit him from doing so. However, such a matter will deescalate the tension among people, comfort the families of the martyrs, and aid in understanding how the summons are progressing, so that the judiciary, and particularly Judge Al Bitar, will not be held accountable for every action or decision he makes.
  • Why did Judge Al Bitar host the French judicial delegation despite the fact that he had been away from the Beirut blast case for a long time? Why did he host the delegation twice, once in the evening, outside his workplace, and after official working hours? Is there any need for such a meeting, and is it essential to hold those two meetings? Most importantly, why did Al Bitar take action immediately after meeting with the French delegation? Was it his overzealousness that drove him to do so, or is there vague data that the public hasn’t seen?

Many suspicions arise when seeking needed answers to several questions concerning what Al Bitar has accomplished. There is no doubt that many factors, including the ambiguity of the judge’s steps and the suspicions that have risen all over his practices, particularly his practices with the families of the martyrs and his statements to some media, in addition to the attempts of a known political party to exploit the port blast and the investigation in certain directions, increased suspicion and raised doubts. It also arises evident and open skepticism regarding the judge’s work among the judges themselves, and also among some of the victims’ families…

* Zoulfikar Daher is Al-Manar Website’s editor on legal affairs.

Source: Al-Manar Website

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