Monday January 30, 2023

Lebanon judge probing Beirut blast charges top prosecutor

January 25, 2023

BEIRUT: Lebanon´s judge Tarek Bitar, who is investigating the deadly 2020 Beirut port blast, has charged Lebanon´s top prosecutor and seven others with probable intent to murder, arson and other crimes, an official said on Tuesday.

Bitar had sparked surprise in Lebanon a day before when he charged eight top security and judicial officials, reviving a probe that was suspended for over a year amid vehement political and legal pushback.

It emerged on Tuesday from a judicial source who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity that Prosecutor General Ghassan Oueidat was among those charged, joining those who had already been announced on Monday including the head of General Security, Abbas Ibrahim, and State Security agency chief Tony Saliba.

The Beirut port blast of August 4, 2020 -- one of history´s biggest non-nuclear explosions -- destroyed most of Beirut port and swathes of the capital, killing more than 215 people and injuring over 6,500.

Authorities said the mega-explosion was sparked by a fire in a portside warehouse, where a vast stockpile of the volatile industrial chemical ammonium nitrate had been haphazardly stored for years.