by Timour Azhari and Laila Bassam
BEIRUT (Reuters) – The magistrate in charge of investigating the explosion that ravaged the port of Beirut in the summer of 2020 has opened proceedings against a series of senior Lebanese officials, starting with the then Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, we learned on Tuesday from sources and court documents.
Deadlocked for several months, the investigation was suddenly relaunched on Monday by Judge Tarek Bitar, who had to battle against political resistance and legal obstacles posed by multiple appeals.
Hassan Diab, like Attorney General Ghassan Oueïdate, is being prosecuted along with other former or current senior Lebanese officials in connection with the investigation into the explosion of thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material, in the port Beirut on August 4, 2020, which killed more than 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed entire sections of the Lebanese capital.
According to documents that Reuters was able to consult, the former head of government and several other ministers are accused of “homicide”.
Judicial sources also told Reuters that Director of General Security Abbas Ibrahim and former army commander Jean Kahwagi are also targeted by Judge Tarek.
(Laila Bassam and Timour Azhari; French version Nicolas Delame, edited by Blandine Hénault)