Lebanon court rejects lawsuits by ex-pm, ex-ministers

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Lebanon court rejects lawsuits by ex-pm, ex-ministers

A view shows the grain silo that was damaged during the Beirut port blast last year, during sunset in Beirut, Lebanon, July 29, 2021. A top Lebanese court rejected lawsuits by a former prime minister and three former ministers seeking to sue the state over the conduct of the judge probing the deadly August 2020 Beirut blast, a senior judicial source told Reuters.

The suits, filed over the past month, have paused Judge Tarek Bitar's investigation but he still can't proceed due to a separate judicial ruling that is still pending, lawyer Nizar Saghieh of watchdog group Legal Agenda told Reuters.

The general assembly of Lebanon's Court of Cassation rejected the suits filed by former Prime Minister Hassan Diab and former Ministers Nohad Machnouk, Ghazi Zeaiter and Ali Hasan Khalil, who alleged grave mistakes in the probe.

All have been charged in connection with the blast, but have denied any wrongdoing and refused to be interrogated by Judge Tarek Bitar, arguing that he does not have the authority to prosecute them.

Bitar does not give public statements in line with the rules for judges.

Families of Beirut blast victims who have visited Bitar say he told them he would continue to try to interrogate top officials until he was removed from the case.