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Beirut Port Explosion Investigation Stalled Again

Beirut port explosion investigation stalled again

Source: BCTC
Beirut, Lebanon (PortSEurope) October 12, 2021 – An investigation into the causes of the Beirut port explosion in August 2020 has again been halted. Two politicians under investigation by Judge Tarek Bitar have again filed a complaint. Earlier this month, the Beirut Appeals Court rejected requests to remove Bitar from the investigation. Former ministers Nouhad Machnouk, Ghazi Zeiter and Ali Hasan Khalil had accused the
judge of being biased because his home was damaged in the explosion. The judge has been accused of bias and submitted him to a campaign of aggressive opposition. Local sources report that the leader of the powerful, armed Shi’ite political movement Hezbollah said it wanted Bitar removed from the investigation. He would be the second judge to be removed from the investigation. The detonation on August 4 of some 2,700 tonnes of unsafely stored ammonium nitrate that killed almost 200 people, injured 6,000, left over 300,000 without proper housing and with damages estimated at $15 billion, fueled outrage over government corruption, incompetence, negligence and inaction. Senior officials from across the political spectrum have refused to show up for questioning and arrest warrants are now unlikely to be executed. Bitar had wanted to quiz the two persons on criminal negligence but the resistance has been intense. However, a meeting of the supreme defence council, chaired by President Michel Aoun, today refused the request sought by the judge to pursue Tony Saliba, the director general of state security. The political class of Lebanon remains opposed to any investigation into the causes of the explosion. Thus, any moves to rebuilt the port remain stalled and the city in a limbo of progress. Earlier this week, an investigation by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) suggested that a chemical-trading network controlled by Ukrainians and hidden behind a veil of proxies and shell firms was the owner of the 2,700 tonnes of unsafely stored ammonium nitrate that exploded in the port of Beirut. More about the plans to rebuild the geopolitically strategic facility in the Eastern Mediterranean can be found in the following PortSEurope analysis CMA CGM most likely to rebuild Beirut port in a project worth €600 million – German multi-billion euro project rejected France expected to beat China in the race for the Port of Beirut – Hezbollah is the main obstacle Copyright (C) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2021.

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