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Saturday, 18 September 2021

Lebanese judge goes after top politicians over port blast

Nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded on Aug. 4, killing 211 people, wounding more than 6,000 and damaging nearby neighborhoods

AFP , Friday 2 Jul 2021
In this Dec. 2, 2020 file photo, rubble and debris remain around towering grain silos gutted in the massive August explosion at the Beirut port that claimed the lives of more than 200 people, in Beirut, Lebanon AP

The Lebanese judge leading the investigation into last year's massive blast at Beirut's port announced on Friday he would pursue top politicians and former and current security officials in the case, state media reported Friday.

Judge Tarek Bitar confirmed charges filed by his predecessor against outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab and has summoned him for questioning, National News Agency reported. He did not set a date.

Bitar also asked the government and the interior ministry for permission to question two of Lebanon's most prominent generals, the head of General Security Directorate Abbas Ibrahim, and the head of State Security Tony Saliba.

He also asked parliament to lift the immunity on two legislators who were charged by his predecessor, and a former interior minister. Bitar also filed charges against former army commander Gen. Jean Kahwaji and former head of military intelligence Brig. Gen. Kameel Daher, as well as two other retired intelligence generals.

Nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material used in fertilizers that had been improperly stored in the port for years, exploded on Aug. 4, killing 211 people, wounding more than 6,000 and damaging nearby neighborhoods.

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