BEIRUT: The Beirut Bar Association has urged all officials to refrain from interfering with the judiciary and respect the law and work of institutions.
Nader Kaspar, head of the association, said: “The lawyers stand in solidarity with the judges and the Judicial Council.”
His statement came as the confrontation between Hezbollah and the Lebanese judiciary took a dangerous turn. The party has accused Judge Tarek Bitar, who is leading the probe into the Beirut port explosion, of “politicizing the investigation.”
In the past few days, the Justice Palace in Beirut has been abuzz with news about the resignation of several judges in protest at the poor conditions the judiciary is experiencing, due to political interference on the one hand and the economic situation on the other.
Former public prosecutor Judge Hatem Madi told Arab News: “What is happening increases the state of disgust within the judicial body. These pressures should not affect the course of the judiciary's work, but how long can the judiciary stand its ground in light of a pressing financial and economic crisis?
“Pressure has always been exerted on the judiciary. If the judiciary had surrendered, the judges would have resigned a long time ago. They want to remove Bitar at any cost. They have paralyzed the government and they want to do the same to the judiciary, but the latter has so far been steadfast.”
The president of the Fifth Chamber of the Court of Cassation Judge Jeannette Hanna, public defender Judge Carla Kassis, and president of the Court of Appeal Judge Rola Al-Husseini have submitted their resignation.
However, the head of the Supreme Judicial Council Judge Suhail Abboud rejected these resignations, asking the judges to “hold back.”
The Coalition for an Independent Lebanese Judiciary warned that the judicial body was facing imminent danger.
It said: “These resignations serve as a warning of what the financial and economic collapse may cause within one of the most important public facilities, and of the ongoing systematic campaigns against every judge who dares to question immunities, which was evident in the Beirut port blast probe.”
It added that the resignations “reflect the feelings of helplessness and resentment of many judges regarding the financial and moral factors that prevent them from performing their judicial function properly, and put them in an embarrassing situation before public opinion.”
On Friday, in addition to demanding that Bitar be removed, Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah went after the entire judicial body because it had pushed back against attempts by defendants to remove Bitar.
“Hezbollah resorted to the judiciary to confront Bitar's discretion, but the rulings show that the entire judiciary is politicized,” Nasrallah said. “This was evident over the past couple of days when the judiciary rejected all requests to dismiss Bitar.”
He once again claimed that the US, represented by its embassy in Lebanon, was supporting Bitar.
“The investigation is trying to accuse Hezbollah of being involved in the blast. The current judicial process is on a discretionary path that does not lead to any justice or truth.”
Speaking about the Tayouneh incident, which occurred when Hezbollah supporters took to the streets and clashed with residents of Ain Al-Rummaneh, Nasrallah said Hezbollah did not want personal revenge, but that many people involved had not been handed over to the judiciary and they were still in Maarab, a reference to Lebanese Forces party leader Samir Geagea.
“The extent of recklessness, in this case, is an invitation to the families of the victims to take matters into their own hands,” Nasrallah said.
The party has been disrupting Cabinet sessions and preventing the resignation of Information Minister George Kordahi to fix Lebanon's relationship with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.