Lebanese Prime Minister and former ministers accused of Beirut explosion | Middle East

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Prime Minister Hassan Diab and three former ministers accused of negligence in the explosion of the port of Beirut.

Beirut, Lebanon – Outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab and three former ministers have been accused of negligence which led to the deaths of hundreds of people and thousands of injuries in the massive explosion at the port of Beirut in August.

Fadi Sawan, the judge in charge of investigating the explosion, indicted on Thursday Diab, former public works ministers Ghazi Zaeiter and Youssef Fenianos and former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil, a senior judicial source told Al Jazeera .

Sawan is expected to question Diab as a defendant in the case Monday at the Grand Seraglio, the seat of government in Beirut. He also called on the three ministers to be questioned on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, also as defendants.

Sawan had questioned them previously only as “witnesses”.

The judge’s ruling comes two weeks after sending a letter to the Lebanese parliament asking members of parliament to investigate ministers over the blast in a special parliamentary tribunal to prosecute senior officials. The Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, refused.

The source told Al Jazeera: “Sawan had made parliament face its responsibility to explore the political accountability of ministers, but they refused to move forward. This prompted him to file these negligence charges, which he considers to be within his jurisdiction.

The decision to prosecute the outgoing prime minister and former ministers is based on verified written correspondence sent to them, warning officials about nearly 3,000 tons of explosives in the Beirut port, the source said.

Diab’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and the phones of the three former ministers were turned off when called by an Al Jazeera reporter.

The latest charges bring the number of people prosecuted for the explosion to 37, of whom 25 are in detention.

Defendants

Diab, a political newcomer, said he initially learned of the explosive material’s presence on June 3, 2020, but waited until a report from the state security agency on the matter was released to him. July before starting to move. About that.

Khalil and Zaieter are both veteran ministers of the Amal de Berri movement, while Fenianos is a senior official in Christian leader Suleiman Frangieh’s Marada movement. They took up their duties when the explosives entered the port of Beirut at the end of 2013 aboard a cargo ship.

Khalil served as finance minister from 2014 to 2020, during which time he formally oversaw Lebanese customs, whose leader has been charged and detained in the case, along with a number of other officials.

Zaieter and Fenianos respectively headed the Ministry of Public Works from 2014 to 2016 and 2016 to 2020. The ministry is responsible for overseeing the port, and its director of land and sea transport, Abdel-Hafiz al-Kaissy, has been charged in the explosion affair.



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