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Ex-Lebanon PM refuses to be questioned over Beirut blast

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab on 5 May, 2020 in Beirut, Lebanon [Presidency of Lebanon/Handout/Anadolu Agency]
Former Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab in Beirut, Lebanon on 5 May 2020 [Presidency of Lebanon//Anadolu Agency]

Former Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab has refused to attend further questioning over the Beirut port explosion, an official source said yesterday.

Reuters quoted an unnamed source as saying that Diab's decision came after the judge investigating the Beirut port explosion charged him and three former ministers with negligence.

The accusation levelled by Judge Fadi Sawwan against Diab and former public works ministers Ghazi Zaeiter and Youssef Fenianos and former Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil sparked strong criticism from influential parties, including Hezbollah and Saad Hariri's the Future Movement.

The charges have been widely rejected as an attempt to scapegoat the incumbent prime minister, rather than tackle the root of the problem.

Documents unearthed in the days after the blast showed senior officials, including Lebanese President Michel Aoun, knew highly explosive ammonium nitrate was being stored unsafely in the port.

READ: Lebanese designer slammed for explosion debris bag

Both Aoun and Diab claim to have passed the information on and ordered the removal of the substance.

Diab, who took office in January, said he had "clear conscience" regarding the 4 August explosion which left more than 200 dead and 300,000 homeless.

Diab and his cabinet resigned shortly after the disaster, but he continued to serve as head of the caretaker government as the country's political parties were unable to form a new government.

Lebanon will rise up from its ashes - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Lebanon will rise up from its ashes – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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