Lebanon judges resign in protest against political interference

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Three Lebanese judges have resigned over interference by politicians in the work of the judiciary, including a probe into last year’s Beirut blast, a judicial source said Thursday.

In a country where political leaders determine judicial appointments, including in top courts, there is little room for the judiciary to work against Lebanon’s ruling elite.

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A probe into last year’s monster port explosion has exposed the extent of such interference, with top officials mounting a complex web of court challenges to obstruct the work of lead investigator Tarek Bitar.

On Wednesday three judges, all women, handed in their resignation “to protest...political interference in the work of the judiciary and the undermining of decisions issued by judges and courts,” the judicial source said.

The head of the country’s top court has yet to approve the resignations and has called for the matter to be discussed in a meeting, the source added.

The resignations came after officials filed dozens of lawsuits against Bitar as well as other judges processing requests by lawmakers demanding his removal.

Among those who resigned this week is a judge who turned down a request by an official to remove the investigator.

She was consequently hit with a review questioning the validity of her decision.

“The constant questioning of the judiciary’s decisions is tarnishing its reputation,” the same court official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

While it is the most prominent, the Beirut blast case is not the only one to fall prey to interference by political leaders.

A probe into charges of tax evasion and illicit enrichment brought against central bank chief Riad Salameh has also been paused over a lawsuit filed against lead investigator Jean Tannous.

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