The Higher Judicial Council has been meeting since 2:30pm to take decisions on dozens of topics, including the issue of Court of Appeals judge Habib Mezher, al-Jadeed TV said on Monday evening.
“There is a sharp rift between judges on the issue of Habib Mezher, with a large number of them saying that Mezher did not err by deciding to merge the recusal file against Judge Tarek Bitar with the recusal file against Judge Nassib Elia, because he was officially tasked to be in charge of Chamber 12 of the Civil Court of Appeals,” al-Jadeed added.
“Some judges consider that Mezher’s request that Bitar provide him with the complete file of the port probe to be legal, so that he can look into the case, seeing as there is no confidentiality among judges,” the TV network went on to say.
Mezher sparked controversy after he started looking into the case against Bitar, with the Court of Appeals announcing that he had been “exclusively” tasked with handling a recusal lawsuit against Court of Appeals judge Nassib Elia.
Bitar’s probe into the port case was suspended on Thursday after Mezher notified him of a lawsuit filed against him by ex-minister Youssef Fenianos. Mezher also asked Bitar to hand over the details of the case to enable the court to review the lawsuit.
The Beirut-based rights group Legal Agenda warned that Mezher’s request to see the full content of the investigation violates the secrecy of the probe. The group also said that Mezher’s known opinions critical of Bitar may constitute bias.
According to media reports, Mezher is close to Hizbullah and the Amal Movement, which both have called for Bitar’s removal and launched a fierce campaign against him over alleged selectivity in his summonings.