Words by Diane Naimeh

The Higher Judicial and Criminal Court of Cassation made a decision on Monday 22 February to remove Judge Fadi Sawan from the investigation into the 4 August blast in Beirut’s port last year.

On 18 February, families of the Beirut blast victims roamed the streets of Beirut protesting the removal of Judge Fadi Sawan from the case related to the Beirut blast. Various Lebanese citizens and families of the victims were enraged by this decision and described this situation as unfair. 

Lebanese judges in the Higher Judicial Council stated the reason why they removed Sawan as an investigator is because he took 6 months and his evidence led to no answer at all. 

The removal of Judge Fadi Sawan is the latest development in the Beirut blast investigation, and has prompted debate and speculation. Some citizens have been discussing an early prediction by Lebanese Astrologer Michael Hayek on 31 January. 

During his 2021 forecast he predicted that the truth related to the 4 August blast could not be hidden and stated: “Whatever they try to do, in all scenarios, removing judge Fadi sawan and replacing him with another judge they will not hide the truth”.

On 19 February, the Higher Judicial Council appointed Judge Tarek Bitar as Sawan’s successor. Tarek Bitar, who is also president of the Criminal Court in Beirut, is yet to accept his role. He previously rejected the same role back in August, stating in his letter it was for “reasons and convictions that I made clear” – but his reasons were not made public. 

According to various media outlets, Judge Tarek Bitar will start his lead into the investigation related to the Beirut blast investigation if he ends up accepting his position.

On 4 August, the Minister of Justice Marie-Claude Najem nominated an official Sami Younes to take over the investigation. He was nominated to take over the investigation for the blast, but the court suddenly rejected him on the same day, since he had close connections with the Lebanese president Michael Aoun.

Judge Fadi Sawan had earlier charged Former Minister Yousef Fenios, together with Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Former Finance Minister Ali Khalil as well as Ghazi Zeaitzer with negligence over the Beirut blast probe. However, all of them refused to  be questioned and didn’t cooperate with this case. 

The Lebanese government were satisfied with this verdict since they didn’t want to be exposed if he told the truth as stated by MTV due to the fact he had solid evidence related to the ammonium nitrate explosion.  

The Lebanese researcher and human rights activist Aya Majzoub, and other protesters, described Fadi’s removal from the Beirut blast probe as ridicule, calling this outcome an “insult to the families of the victims”.  

The political chaos which happened last August represented the reality that Lebanon has been facing today, which caused all the Lebanese politicians such as President Micheal Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab to disagree with each other. 

According to several media sources, including LBC, AL Jazeera and other Lebanese sources, the Beirut Blast Investigation showed that the Lebanese authorities and political leaders were instructed several times to remove the ammonium nitrate from the port.

Lebanese citizens believed that nothing was done and no measures were taken and that this explosion caused colossal damage and devastation to the country of Lebanon and the city of Beirut, and its port, the people and the families of the victims.

The hardship and blast in 2020 which destroyed the port was described as a non-nuclear explosion which killed around 200 people , injured 6,000 people and left 3,000 residents homeless. 

In a video that went viral, a Tik Tok user known as Bono Kaiser combined clips related to UFO’s together with the fake zombie apocalypse footage and claimed the Beirut blast was not real. He included a shot related to the Beirut blast in one of the videos this year.

But he has since been criticized for joking about such a massive tragedy – one of the worst tragedies for the Lebanese people who are still searching for justice until today. It was described as being offensive and angered some Lebanese and non-Lebanese people alike.

Picture Credit: Jo Kassis

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