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Lebanon: Beirut blast judge suspends questioning of former PM

Former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Hassan Diab in Beirut, Lebanon on 6 July 2021 [Lebanese Gov't Press Office/Anadolu Agency]
Former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Hassan Diab in Beirut, Lebanon on 6 July 2021 [Lebanese Gov't Press Office/Anadolu Agency]

The judge in the probe into the August 2020 explosion in Beirut has suspended the questioning of former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Reuters has reported. Judge Tarek Bitar made the move on Thursday after Diab filed a lawsuit the day before, a legal source revealed.

Diab has been charged over the blast that killed over 215 people. He has already missed at least two interrogation sessions.

Bitar was notified officially about the lawsuit, which argues that he does not have the authority to interrogate the former prime minister. That meant that he had to suspend the session automatically. "The suspension of questioning relates only to Diab in this case," the source told Reuters.

Judge Bitar has sought to question top politicians, including former ministers and members of parliament, since July. However, nearly all have spurned him, and some have raised legal complaints against him, calling into question his impartiality.

In the past, the judge has issued arrest warrants for ministers who failed to show up for interrogation. Diab's lawsuit was thus likely an eleventh-hour attempt to prevent a similar scenario related to his interrogation session scheduled for today, Thursday.

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