- Deadly blast devastated swathes of Beirut
- Prime safety chief and ex-ministers to be questioned
- Anger grows that no senior officers held to account
- Earlier choose eliminated in February in setback to case
BEIRUT, July 2 (Reuters) – The choose in control of the investigation into the Beirut port blast will search to query high politicians and safety officers, Lebanon’s nationwide information company mentioned on Friday, nearly a yr after the explosion that devastated the capital.
The blast in August, blamed on an enormous amount of chemical compounds left for years in poor storage circumstances, deepened a political and financial disaster within the closely indebted nation.
Atypical Lebanese have grown more and more indignant that no senior officers have been held to account for the explosion that killed tons of of individuals, injured hundreds and ruined entire neighbourhoods within the centre of Beirut.
Choose Tarek Bitar, who turned the lead investigator into the blast after his predecessor was eliminated in February, will name in caretaker prime minister Hassan Diab and others, the company mentioned, though it mentioned no dates had but been set.
He has additionally written to parliament asking to elevate immunity from former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, former Public Works Minister Ghazi Zeaiter and former Inside Minister Nohad Machnouk as a primary step in direction of charging them.
Zeaiter, a parliamentary deputy from speaker Nabih Berri’s bloc, instructed Reuters he had solely heard of the costs from media and didn’t want to remark. Machnouk additionally declined to remark.
The caretaker prime minister, Khalil and different listed as targets for questioning by the choose couldn’t instantly be reached for remark.
Diab and the identical ex-officials have been charged final yr by choose Fadi Sawan, who beforehand led the probe, however they refused to be questioned as suspects, accusing him of overstepping his powers.
Choose Bitar additionally requested for permission from caretaker Inside Minister Mohamed Fahmy to query Lebanon’s safety chief Abbas Ibrahim, the company mentioned.
Fahmy instructed Reuters he had not been notified but concerning the course of however would take all authorized steps required as soon as he was.
Bitar’s listing included one other former public works minister, Youssef Finianos, and Tony Saliba, the pinnacle of state safety.
Sawan was faraway from the investigation in February by the court docket of cassation after a request by Khalil and Zeaiter, a significant setback for the households of victims in search of justice.
Sawan accused the three ex-ministers and caretaker prime minister of negligence. The court docket of cassation cited “respectable suspicion” over Sawan’s neutrality, partly as a result of his home was broken within the blast.
Reporting By Maha El Dahan and Laila Bassam; Modifying by Edmund Blair
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