Judge suspends probe into Lebanon port blast amid challenges

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BEIRUT (AP) — The lead judge investigating last year’s massive blast in Beirut’s port has suspended his work in the case after he was formally notified that a former Cabinet minister had submitted a request to recuse him. Monday’s move comes amid a growing campaign by Lebanon’s political class against the judge. Judge Tarek Bitar took over the job in February after his predecessor was removed following legal challenges by senior officials he had accused of negligence that led to the blast. Hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material used in fertilizers, exploded on Aug. 4, 2020, killing at least 214 people and injuring more than 6,000.

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