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Lebanon plans to question judges, security officials about Beirut Port explosion

January 24, 2023 at 4:46 pm

A view of the newly-collapsed northern section of the grain silos at the port of Lebanon’s capital Beirut, Lebanon. [Hussam Shbaro – Anadolu Agency]

A Lebanese judge plans to question judges and security officials into the 2020 Beirut port explosion next month, according to a judicial source on Tuesday.

Judge Tarek Bitar resumed his inquiry into the deadly blast on Monday, after a 13-month suspension due to political resistance to his attempts to interrogate top officials, Anadolu News Agency reports.

“Prosecutor-General, Ghassan Oueidat, will be among those who will be questioned,” the source told Anadolu, on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

“This will be an unprecedented move in Lebanon’s judicial history,” the source said.

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According to local media, three other judges — Ghassan Khoury, Carla Shawwah and Jad Maalouf — will also be summoned for questioning.

The list also includes Higher Customs Council chief, Asaad Toufaili, Council member Gracia Al-Qazzi, General Security chief, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and State Security chief, Maj.-Gen. Tony Saliba.

On 4 August, 2020, Beirut was rocked by a massive explosion that changed the course of events and upended the lives of many people in Lebanon.

More than 200 Lebanese lost their lives and 6,500 others were injured, while some 50,000 housing units suffered damage, with material losses estimated at about $15 billion.

Authorities believe the explosion was caused by about 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, which had been confiscated from a ship and had been stored at the port for six years.

READ: Judge unexpectedly resumes frozen Beirut blast investigation