A year after Beirut port blast, justice remains elusive – Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said Tuesday that achieving justice in the Beirut Port blast starts with holding officials responsible for the tragedy accountable, as the country marked the first anniversary of the explosion.
On August 4, a massive blast rocked Beirut Port, killing 200 people, injuring around 6,000 others, and leaving behind a massive trail of destruction. The blast was caused by a quantity of 2,750 tons of hazardous nitrate ammonium that were improperly stored in the port.
“The August 4 blast exposed the defects of the country,” Diab said. “Lebanese people can’t feel safe if the full truth of such catastrophe is not revealed, in which its humanitarian, psychological and social effects can’t be overcome.”
On July 2, Tariq Bitar, a judge investigating the port blast, asked to lift the immunity of three Lebanese lawmakers, but the parliament requested further documents and clarifications before moving to lift immunity.
“Complete facts of the catastrophe can’t be revealed without clear answers to fundamental questions: who brought these [chemical] materials? Why? How and why it was stored for 7 years? How did the blast happen?” Diab said.
Interior Minister Mohammad Fehmi rejected a request by Bitar to question Abbas Ibrahim, head of the General Security Directorate, and State Security Chief Toni Saliba over the blast. Bitar also requested to question former army commander Jean Kahwaji and other former high-rank army officials.
Families of the victims hold rallies regularly demanding bringing officials responsible for the blast accountable.