Who is Judge Tariq Al-Bitar?
Tariq Al-Bitar, 46, hails from the town of Aidmon in the region Akkar North LebanonHe graduated from the Institute of Justice Studies in the country, and was among the first in it, then joined the judicial corps, the Appeals Public Defender Center in the north, and then took the position of a single judge.
In 2017, he was appointed head of the criminal court in Beirut.
public opinion issues
Although he gained great fame after investigating the Beirut port explosion case, he was a familiar face before that to the Lebanese street, after he investigated serious cases that occupied public opinion, such as the case of the murder of the two young men, Georges Al-Reef and Roy Hamoush, and the girl Ella Tannous, who was subjected to mistakes. Medical led to the amputation of all four limbs.
According to local media reports, he does not know that al-Bitar belongs to any political party.
“Till the end”
Al-Bitar assumed the task of investigating the port case last February after the dismissal of his colleague, Fadi Sawan, following political pressure, and began his work on a day off, according to the Lebanese newspaper, An-Nahar.
Al-Bitar was supposed to investigate the case before Sawan, but the judicial system sensed hesitation on the part of the judge, especially after he said: “I am not enthusiastic, but if I receive this file, I will proceed with it to the end.”
The people of Aidmon received the news with much welcome, to the extent that they raised banners congratulating him on this task, despite its difficulty. The people told Lebanese media that their son is an honest judge in his work and is keen to give everyone his right.
Not long after Al-Bitar took over the investigation into the case, trouble began, most notably from Hezbollah, the armed militia that controls political life in the country.
This was manifested in Hezbollah’s Secretary-General, Hassan Nasrallah, launching a violent attack on Al-Bitar, mentioning him by name and calling on the Supreme Judicial Council to change him.
Nasrallah said: “The current judge in the Beirut port investigations did not benefit from the mistakes of his predecessor, but rather went to discretion and politicization, and that he works in politics and works with political targeting and does not want to reach the truth in this file.”
The matter did not stop here, as a judicial source told “Reuters” that a senior Hezbollah official threatened Bitar that the party would remove him from the investigation.
Al-Bitar is facing great pressure from other politicians, as in early October he escaped attempts to exclude him from the investigation, after the Court of Cassation rejected two complaints against him.
Among the complainants were two representatives from the Amal Movement, Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zuaiter.
The investigation into the circumstances of the port explosion on August 4, 2020, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions recorded in history, did not make any significant progress amid a smear campaign against Judge Tariq Bitar and resistance from powerful Lebanese political groups.
Anger reigns over many Lebanese, especially the relatives of the victims of the explosion, which killed more than 200 people, as more than a year has passed without any senior official being held accountable for what happened.