High-Level Names in the Beirut Port Explosion

by christineanderso

Following the massive explosion in the Lebanese port of Beirut on 4 August, Beirut Prosecutor Fadi Sawwan has indicted interim Prime Minister Hasan Diab, former finance minister Hasan Halil, former public affairs ministers Gazi Zeiter and Yusuf Fenianos. According to the news in the official news agency of Lebanon, the prosecutor accused these people of negligence and causing the deaths of hundreds of people. These are the three most senior names of the undercover investigation.

More than 200 people lost their lives and thousands were injured in the explosion, which occurred when explosives stored in the port of Beirut for six years caught fire.

It was stated that high-level security officials and politicians knew that the explosives were stored in the port, but it was claimed that they did nothing about it.

The slow progress of the investigation, the lack of answers to the questions, and the lack of indictment against senior officials caused outrage in Lebanon. So far, 30 other security and customs officials have been detained in the investigation.

Diab, a former professor at the American University in Beirut, became prime minister at the end of last year. Diab, who served as minister of education between 2011 and 2014, is considered to be a name outside of the ruling circles in Lebanon since the end of the civil war that continued between 1975 and 1990.

Diab was backed by Hezbollah and its allies after Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned after last year’s anti-government protests. Diab resigned a few days after the explosion in Beirut harbor. Diab is temporarily holding the post of prime minister while the efforts to form a new government continue amid political discussions in Lebanon.

In a statement from Diab’s office, Prosecutor Sawwan was accused of violating the constitution and disabling parliament. In the statement, it was stated that Diab shared all the necessary information with the prosecutor.

In the statement, it was stated that the surprise targeting of the Prime Minister turned into targeting the office, and it was noted that Hasan Diab would not allow the prime minister’s office to be targeted by anyone.

Prosecutor Sawwan said that the testimony of Diab and the three former ministers charged will be heard next week. Whether Diab will agree to testify is unknown.

Attorney Yusuf Lahoud, who represents some 1,500 families affected by the blast, considered Sawwan’s latest attempt ‘an important step towards the full disclosure of the truth’.

Lahoud, who also represents the Beirut Bar Association working for these families, noted that the indictment does not mean that these people are guilty, and that the final decision will be made by the 5-member Justice Council.

The explosion that took place on 4 August was recorded as the biggest non-nuclear explosion in history.

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