Aftermath of Beirut explosion
Aftermath of Beirut explosionAZIZ TAHER/ REUTERS

Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, the head of the Maronite Church, called on Sunday for the judge struggling to investigate the Beirut port explosion to be able to pursue his work and get help from any outside authority to pinpoint those responsible for the devastating blast.

According to Reuters, the top cleric stated in his Sunday sermon: "We hope investigating Judge Tareq Bitar continues his work to uncover the truth and issue a decision and get help from any international authority that can help disclose the truth."

Tensions surrounding the investigation have risen since Judge Tarek Bitar brought charges against some of the most influential people in Lebanon, defying political pressure to scrap the inquiry into the 2020 explosion that killed 220 people.

Many of those charged are allies of Lebanon's most powerful factions, including Hezbollah. In response to the charges, the prosecutor general charged Bitar last week with usurping powers.

Critics called it "a coup" against his investigation.

Last week, Judge Bitar resumed his investigation after a 13-month halt caused by legal wrangling and high-level political pressure, issuing charges against several senior officials, including top public prosecutor Ghassan Oweidat.

Oweidat rejected Bitar's move and filed charges against him for allegedly mishandling the inquiry and ordering the release of people detained in connection with the blast.