March 29
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More than 200 demonstrators gathered outside Lebanon's Palace of Justice to protest attempts to derail the investigation into the Beirut port bombing in 2020.

Judge Tarek Bitar announced Monday that he was reopening the investigation into the bombing, which killed more than 220 people, after a 13-month hiatus caused by legal disputes and high-level political pressure.

But the country's chief prosecutor, Ghassan Oueidat, objected, filing charges against Bitar and releasing the remaining 17 detainees still in custody during the investigation.

On Thursday, Oueidat issued an additional decision ordering the judiciary not to accept any orders, warrants or other documents issued by Bitar.

The explosion, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in recorded history, was triggered by hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate unloaded at the port in 2013.

Families of those killed in the explosion, members of parliament and other Lebanese gathered outside Lebanon's Palace of Justice to demand that Bitar be allowed to continue operating.

Some protesters tried to break in, but the doors were sealed and heavily guarded.

George Bezjian, whose daughter Jessica died in the bombing at the hospital where she worked as a nurse, vowed that the families would continue to protest in support of Bitar.

Lebanon's Supreme Judicial Council is scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss the progress of the investigation into the port explosion.

Protesters said they fear the country's highest-ranking judges may decide to remove Bitar from the case or appoint an additional judge, effectively undermining Bitar's authority.

Bitar said that Chief Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat "had no right" to charge or release detainees because Oweidat himself had been charged in connection with the bombing.

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