International Update : Charges of neglect against officials over Beirut blasts rejected

Insight Online News

Beirut, Dec 12 : Charges pressed by a Lebanese judge against caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab and three former Ministers for their neglect over the massive August 4 Port of Beirut blasts have been rejected by the government and the establishment.

All the indicted officials, including former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and former Transportation and Public Works Ministers Ghazi Zeaiter and Youssef Fenianos, are expected to be questioned on the case by next weekm reports Xinhua news agency.

On Friday, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that the charges constitute a clear and flagrant constitutional breach because heads of government only appear before a special court formed by Parliament.

“Families of the victims have the right to know the truth. It is their right to know who brought this ship to Beirut’s port and who covered its presence in the country.

“But it is not acceptable to violate the constitution,” Hariri said after his meeting with Diab.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian and former Prime Minister Tamam Salam echoed Hariri’s opinion that this legal attack against the position of Prime Minister is “unacceptable”.

The caretaker Prime Minister’s Office had announced a day earlier that Diab “has a clear conscience and he is confident of his transparent approach in handling the Beirut port’s explosion issue”.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Zeaiter said he has documents proving that he did not know about the entry of the vessel carrying the ammonium nitrate to Lebanon until he received from the Russian embassy a letter about it.

The former minister added that he transferred the letter to the Land and Maritime Transport Directorate but did not get any feedback.

Meanwhile, Khalil, also a top aide to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri,said he had no role in the case as the former head of the finance ministry.

On Friday, Hezbollah called on Judge Fadi Sawanto reconsider his decision that “lacks a legal and constitutional basis”.

About 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded at the Port on August 4, killing about 190 people, wounding at least 6,000 others and leaving 300,000 homeless.

Experts have said that this was one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history.

IANS

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