Lebanon’s attorney general orders release of all detainees over August 2020 Beirut blast

File – Damage caused by explosions in Beirut port – Marwan Naamani/dpa

Lebanon’s Prosecutor General Ghasan Ueidat on Wednesday ordered the release of all those detained for their alleged connection to the August 2020 explosion in Beirut, amid his tensions with the judge in charge of the investigations.

Ueidat has issued during the day an order to release all those arrested, without exception, and to impose a travel ban on them. They are now at the disposal of the Judicial Council, as reported by the Lebanese state news agency NNA.

The decision came just a day after the judge in charge of the investigations, Tarek Bitar, indicted the prosecutor general and several judges, according to sources quoted by LBCI television channel. Bitar resumed his work on Monday after a thirteen-month suspension due to several lawsuits against him that blocked the investigations.

In response to Bitar’s decision, the Lebanese Prosecutor’s Office filed a notice with the courts not to enforce the judge’s notices as invalid, amid widespread unrest among the families of victims of the blast, which left more than 200 dead, Bitar replaced Fadi Sauan after he was removed from the case following a series of complaints filed by senior officials summoned to testify, including former Interior Minister Nuhad Machnuk, although lawsuits by several former ministers summoned to testify also led to the suspension of his investigations.

Popular unrest has been on the rise in recent months due to the blockage and delays in the removal of the immunity of former ministers and parliamentarians who have been summoned by Judge Bitar to testify as part of the investigations, including former Prime Minister Hasan Diab, who resigned amid the wave of protests following the event.