Lebanon Prime Minister, others charged over deadly Beirut blast

By Simdi Gloria:-

Hassan Diab, Lebanon Prime Minister, and three former ministers, Ali Hassan Khalil, Ghazi Zaiter, and Youssef Fenianos have been charged in connection with the port blast that killed more than 200 people and disfigured the heart of Beirut.

The catastrophic explosion took place on 4 August and there has been little progress in the investigation into what caused it.

The prime minister and three former ministers were accused of failing to respond to warnings ahead of the disaster that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely at the port posed a growing danger to residents.

As part of the investigation, 30 port officials had been detained which was launched amid seething public anger at Lebanon’s politicians and their role in leading the country to the point of economic oblivion.

Fear still remains throughout on why such a combustible stockpile came to be stored on the edge of the capital and who ultimately allowed it to happen.

Diab, who had been prime minister for 10 months when the explosion happened, and remains in a caretaker role after resigning days later, said his “conscience was clear”. His office said: “He is confident that his hands are clean and that he has handled the Beirut port blast file in a responsible and transparent manner.”

The Investigating prosecutor Fadi Sawan said he would seek to interrogate Diab next week. Representatives of two of the ministers charged indicated they may use parliamentary immunity to avoid judicial scrutiny.

The blast was caused by a stockpile ignition believed to have taken place after workers were using a welder to close a broken warehouse door. The warehouse, known as hangar 12, had been used to store dangerous and flammable material seized from cargo ships.

The explosion destroyed half of the port and caused vast damage across the eastern half of the city and downtown districts.

Calls for an international probe into the causes of the blast and the political decisions made in the years before it took place have been on repeat.

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