LEBANON’S caretaker prime minister and three former ministers have been charged over the devastating explosion in Beirut that killed more than 200 people and injured 6,500 more in August.
The four politicians are charged with negligence leading to death after a months-long probe into the massive blast that rocked Lebanon’s capital city on August 4.
Judge Fadi Sawan, investigating the deadly explosion at the port of Beirut, today filed the charges against caretaker prime minister Hassan Diab, who will appear as a defendant in the case on Monday.
Former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil, as well as former ministers of public works, Ghazi Zeiter and Youssef Fenianos, have also been charged and will appear before the judge next week.
Shocking scenes from Beirut showed buildings ripped apart as families desperately searched for their loved ones, while the walking wounded were tended in the streets.
A fireball filled the sky over the port – the site of the blast – as the sound of the explosion could be heard 110 miles away in Cyprus.
Hero rescuers battled to find survivors in the destruction of the city, as apartment buildings, offices and restaurants were blown apart.
The damage spread up to six miles from the blast site, which was totally destroyed in the chemical explosion.
Anger has been directed at those in charge in Lebanon after it was revealed more than 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate detonated when a blaze spread to the warehouse where it had been stored for six years.
Chemical explosion ripped through Beirut
Beirut blast left 200 dead
More than 200 people died and at least 6,000 were injured when a blast tore apart Beirut's port on August 4, 2020.
Up to 300,000 people were also left homeless by the explosion which caused around £5bn of damage.
Top security officials and politicians knew a large stock of explosive material that ignited the explosion was stored at the port.
It emerged that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate – used as a fertiliser and in explosives – was left in a warehouse for six years before it caused the devastating blast.
The intensity of the blast threw victims into the sea and knocked out a crater around 200 metres across, while buildings were damaged up to six miles outside the blast site.
Top security officials and politicians knew in July the large stockpile of explosive material that ignited the explosion was stored at the port, but did nothing about it.
Despite the charges, prime minister Diab said he was confident that he was not responsible for any negligence, reported Al Jazeera.
Diab’s “conscience is clear”, said a statement from his office, which added he had dealt with the explosion issue in a “responsible and transparent” manner.
“This surprising targeting goes beyond the person to the position per se, and Hassan Diab will not allow the premiership to be targeted by any party,” the statement said.
Diab’s office indicated the prime minister would not comply with judge Sawan’s move to question him, reported Al Jazeera, alleging he had overstepped the role of parliament, which has a specialised court for the trial of top officials.
About 30 other security officials and port and customs officials have also been detained.
Diab and his government resigned after the blast, but he has continued in a caretaker capacity while efforts to form a new government have so far failed amid political disputes.
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