Aftermath of Beirut explosion
Aftermath of Beirut explosionAZIZ TAHER/ REUTERS

A judge investigating the Beirut port explosion this past August has charged Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab and three former ministers with negligence over the blast that killed 200 people and devastated swathes of the capital, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Diab said in response that his conscience was clear and accused the judge of breaching the constitution.

Judge Fadi Sawan called Diab and former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil in for questioning next week, along with former public works ministers Ghazi Zeaiter and Youssef Finianos, state news agency NNA said on Thursday.

Zeaiter, who said he would comment once he was officially informed, headed the public works ministry in 2014, soon after the Rhosus ship carrying tons of ammonium nitrate arrived at Beirut port.

The highly explosive chemicals were stored for years in poor conditions at the port.

Khalil, a top aide to Lebanon’s influential Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, said he had no role in the case as former head of the finance ministry, which oversees customs.

Diab and his entire cabinet resigned soon after the August explosion. Following the resignation of Diab’s cabinet, Mustapha Adib was designated as Prime Minister, but he himself bowed out just weeks after being nominated. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri was then tasked with forming a new government, his fourth in the past decade.

A recent report linked Hezbollah to the explosion at the port, saying the group received from Iran many supplies of ammonium nitrate.

The report cast doubt over the denial by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that his group had any connection to the blast in Beirut.