Lebanese judge charges caretaker PM in port blast
The Lebanese prosecutor probing last summer’s port explosion in Beirut filed charges on Thursday against the caretaker prime minister and three former ministers, Lebanon’s official news agency said.
Judge Fadi Sawwan filed the charges against Hassan Diab and former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, as well as Ghazi Zeiter and Youssef Fenianos, both former ministers of public works.
All four were charged with negligence leading to deaths over the Aug. 4 explosion at Beirut port, which killed more than 200 people and injured thousands. The explosion was caused by the ignition of a large stockpile of explosive material that had been stored at the port for years, with the knowledge of top security officials and politicians who did nothing about it.
The four are the most senior individuals to be indicted so far in the probe, which is being conducted in secrecy. Anger has been building up over the slow investigation, lack of answers and the fact that no senior officials have been indicted.
About 30 other security officials and port and customs officials have been detained in the probe.
Diab, a former university professor, resigned few days after the blast, which leveled the port and destroyed large parts of the city.
Zeitar was transport and public works minister in 2014, followed by Fenianos in 2016, who held the job until the beginning of 2020. Khalil was finance minister in 2014, 2016 and until 2020.
Both Khalil and Fenanios were sanctioned by the U.S. in September this year, the first two officials to be subjected to those outside of Hezbollah group.