The Lebanese judge leading the investigation into last year’s massive explosion at Beirut’s port announced on Friday he intends to pursue senior politicians and former and current security chiefs in the case, and requested permission for their prosecution, The Associated Press reports.
Judge Tarek Bitar confirmed charges filed by his predecessor against outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab and summoned him for questioning, Lebanon’s 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 security chiefs — the head of General Security Directorate, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, and the head of State Security, Maj. Gen. Tony Saliba.
Separately, he asked parliament to lift immunity for 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, and said he will also be pursuing judges, according to AP.
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 August 4, 2020, killing 211 people, injuring more than 6,000 and devastating nearby neighborhoods.
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 report published following the incident 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.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)