Home World News Lebanon Top Prosecutor, Judges Among Eight Charged With ‘Homicide, Arson and Sabotage’

Lebanon Top Prosecutor, Judges Among Eight Charged With ‘Homicide, Arson and Sabotage’

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Lebanon Top Prosecutor, Judges Among Eight Charged With ‘Homicide, Arson and Sabotage’

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Last Updated: January 24, 2023, 18:10 IST

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the damage at the site of blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: A normal view reveals the harm on the web site of blast in Beirut’s port space, Lebanon August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

The prosecution service, nonetheless, shortly pushed again, rejecting the resumption of the probe that led to the indictments of its most senior determine, Ghassan Oueidat, and the others, additionally accused of arson and sabotage

Lebanon’s campaigning decide Tarek Bitar, who’s investigating the lethal 2020 Beirut port blast, charged the prosecutor normal and seven others with possible intent to homicide and different crimes, a judicial official stated Tuesday.

The prosecution service, nonetheless, shortly pushed again, rejecting the resumption of the probe that led to the indictments of its most senior determine, Ghassan Oueidat, and the others, additionally accused of arson and sabotage.

One of historical past’s largest non-nuclear explosions destroyed most of Beirut port and surrounding areas on August 4, 2020, killing greater than 215 folks and injuring over 6,500.

Authorities stated the mega-explosion was attributable to a hearth in a portside warehouse the place an unlimited stockpile of the economic chemical ammonium nitrate had been haphazardly saved for years.

Relatives of the lifeless have been holding month-to-month vigils, in search of justice and accountability over the catastrophe which they blame on the crisis-torn nation’s entrenched ruling class which is extensively deemed inept and corrupt.

A US State Department spokesperson stated in a tweet Tuesday that “we assist and urge Lebanese authorities to finish a swift and clear investigation into the horrific explosion on the Port of Beirut”.

Bitar’s probe has met with strong opposition from government figures and the powerful Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement, which has accused him of political bias.

The judge was forced to suspend his probe for more than a year after a barrage of lawsuits, mainly from politicians he had summoned on charges of negligence.

“Port investigation: Tarek Bitar has gone mad,” ran the headline of the pro-Hezbollah day by day Al-Akhbar, which additionally accused him of performing “on the idea of American orders and with European judicial assist”.

Bitar last week met with two French magistrates, who came to Beirut as part of the country’s own investigation into the explosion that killed and injured French nationals.

Delays and pushback

Bitar had decided Monday, to widespread surprise, to resume his probe into the disaster, despite the strong political pressure against him.

Reopening the case after a 13-month suspension, Bitar charged an initial eight suspects, including General Security head Abbas Ibrahim and State Security agency chief Tony Saliba, and released five others.

In total, Bitar plans to question 13 suspects next month, including five officials whom Bitar indicted earlier — among them ex-prime minister Hassan Diab and former ministers.

According to the judicial official, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, Oueidat had in 2019 overseen a security services investigation into cracks in the warehouse where the ammonium nitrate was stored.

Lebanese state institutions have been reluctant to cooperate with the probe, which began the same month as the explosion.

In February 2021, Bitar’s predecessor as lead judge was removed from the case after he had charged several high-level politicians.

The interior ministry has also failed to execute arrest warrants issued by Bitar, further undermining his quest for accountability.

Iran-backed Hezbollah and its ally Amal called for demonstrations to demand his dismissal in October 2021, when a gun battle broke out at a Beirut rally and seven people were killed.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 employees and is printed from a syndicated information company feed)

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