Lebanese president urges calm after judicial dispute

BEIRUT, April 22 (Reuters) - Lebanese President Michel Aoun warned against the destruction of property on Thursday after the removal of a judge from a financial corruption probe last week prompted her and her supporters to storm a currency exchange bureau.

Aoun made the remarks in a statement after a security meeting that included caretaker prime minister Hassan Diab, the interior minister and other officials.

On Wednesday, judge Ghada Aoun and others had stormed the offices of a foreign exchange dealer in defiance of her removal from the investigation, with some of them breaking down doors, local media reported.

It was the second such attempt to enter the bureau by judge Aoun, who is not directly related to the president and whose supporters appeared largely to back President Aoun's party.

Judge Aoun, chief prosecutor of the Mount Lebanon region, took folders and computers out of the building with her, the state news agency reported. Security forces deployed to the scene.

Aoun, who had also sought to question central bank chief Riad Salameh, has objected to her removal from financial crimes cases last week by Lebanese public prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat.

The row has spilled out into the streets and all over local media, with critics saying it laid bare the political grip on the judiciary in a country battered by a financial crisis rooted in graft and debt. The collapse has sunk the currency, paralyzed banks and trapped savers out of their deposits.

Reporting By Maha El Dahan, Editing by William Maclean

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