Lebanon judge orders seizure of property of MPs

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Lebanon judge orders seizure of property of MPs

A Lebanese judge ordered the seizure of property belonging to two members of parliament who were linked to the deadly explosion that destroyed Beirut's port two years ago, a judicial source said.

The source told AFP that Judge Najah Itani has issued a temporary seizure order worth 100 billion Lebanese pounds $93 million on the property of MPs Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter.

The decision was made in response to a complaint filed by the Beirut Bar Association to question the two MPs for having used their rights in an arbitrary manner by filing complaints intended to hinder the investigation, the source said.

Compensation is roughly the same as the value of the properties.

Both Mr Khalil and Mr Zeaiter are former ministers whom the judge investigating the circumstances surrounding the August 4, 2020 explosion had summoned for interrogation.

The dockside blast of ammonium nitrate - one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history - killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and damaged vast areas of the capital.

After the tragedy, the bar tried to bring legal proceedings against the state on behalf of nearly 1,400 families of victims.

An investigation into the cause has been stalled due to political interference, and no state official has yet to be held accountable.

The investigation was suspended after Mr Khalil and Mr Zeaiter - who belong to the same party as parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri - filed around 20 complaints against Judge Tarek Bitar.

Judge Bitar's investigation has been paused since December because politicians on all sides refuse to be questioned.

On Thursday's second anniversary of the blast, relatives of the victims demanded an international inquiry.

Judge Fadi Sawan's predecessor, Judge Bitar, was forced to suspend his investigation before he was finally removed in a move that was widely condemned as political interference.