Fri, 03 Feb 2023

BEIRUT, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Lebanese Prosecutor-General Ghassan Oueidat on Wednesday filed charges against the judge leading the Beirut port blasts investigation and released all the 17 suspects in connection with the blasts, the National News Agency (NNA) reported.

The prosecutor accused Tarek Bitar of "abusing power" by resuming his work despite the several complaints filed against him, said the NNA.

The investigation into the Beirut port blasts was suspended in December, 2021 after a series of complaints were filed against Bitar, forcing him to halt his probe. Bitar resumed his work on Monday after a 13-month suspension.

In response to Oueidat's accusation, Bitar said he won't step down and will continue with his "responsibilities as investigative judge," according to the NNA.

Upon returning to the office on Monday, Bitar ordered the release of five detained suspects and announced his plan to press charges against others.

On Tuesday, Bitar charged former prime minister Hassan Diab and two former ministers with homicide with probable intent. He also charged chief of Lebanese General Security Abbas Ibrahim, State Security director Tony Saliba, and former Lebanese army commander Jean Kahwaji in connection to the two blasts on Aug. 4, 2020, which killed more than 200 people and injured more than 6,000 others.

Meanwhile, families of the blast victims and many Lebanese were angered by Oueidat's decision to release all the suspects and staged protests in Baabda, the capital of Mount Lebanon Governorate, the NNA reported.

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