A UN expert on Wednesday expressed grave concern about interference in investigations into the 2020 port explosion in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, including threats against the investigating judge.
In a statement, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Margaret Satterthwaite condemned the undue delays that have prevented justice for those affected by the blast.
“I am deeply disturbed by reports that former state officials and others who have been implicated in the case have disingenuously resorted to recusal proceedings and other challenging actions directed at the investigating judges appointed to examine the case,” Satterthwaite said.
“This has led to the replacement of an investigating judge in February 2021, as well as several suspensions of the investigation in recent months,” she added.
The UN expert said the government has failed to execute arrest warrants against former ministers.
“Judge Tarek Bitar, appointed to lead the investigation in February 2021, has faced increasing obstacles and threats to carry out his work,” the special rapporteur said.
Two blasts rocked the Beirut port on Aug. 4, 2020, leaving over 200 people dead, injuring over 6,000, and displacing around 300,000 others. ■