Lebanese Prosecutor Orders Release of Port Blast Detainees

A general view shows the damage at the site of the blast in Beirut’s port area, Lebanon, Aug. 5, 2020. (REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo)

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s top public prosecutor on Wednesday filed charges against the judge investigating the Beirut port blast, a judicial source said, and ordered the release of all those detained in connection with the devastating explosion.

The decision by Ghassan Oweidat signals escalating opposition by Lebanon’s ruling class to efforts by Judge Tarek Bitar to resume his probe into the 2020 blast that killed more than 220 people.

A senior judicial source said Oweidat had filed charges against Bitar but did not disclose what they were.

Oweidat also issued a decision on Wednesday, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, that said Bitar did not have the authority to resume his investigation and insisted the probe was still suspended.

He also released all those detained in connection with the probe “without exception” but said they would face a travel ban.

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

He also charged top current and former officials including Oweidat, a judicial source said, without specifying the charges against the top prosecutor.

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