A view shows damage at the site of a massive explosion in Beirut's port area. File
Gulf Today Report
Lebanon's investigating judge charged caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab and three former ministers with negligence over the Beirut port blast that killed 200 people and ravaged the capital in August, a judicial source and an official source said on Thursday.
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 carelessness and negligence leading to death over the Aug.4 explosion at Beirut's port, which killed more than 200 people and injured thousands.
From left to right: Hassan Diab, Dalati Nohra and Ali Hassan Khalil. File / AP
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 so far.
Diab, a former professor at the American University of Beirut who became prime minister late last year, resigned a few days after the blast, which leveled the country's main port and destroyed large parts of the city.
Rubble, spilled grains remain around towering silos gutted in the massive August explosion at the Beirut port. AP
Diab has continued to function in caretaker capacity while efforts to form a new government has floundered amid political disputes.
The blast is considered to be among the largest non-nuclear explosions ever to be recorded.
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.
Documents surfaced soon after the explosion showing that at least 10 times over the past six years, authorities from Lebanon’s customs, military, security agencies and judiciary raised the alarm that a massive stockpile of potentially dangerous chemicals was being kept with almost no safeguard at the port in the heart of Beirut.
The US Treasury accused Mudalal Khoury in 2015 of "an attempted procurement of ammonium nitrate in late 2013". It sanctioned his brother Imad a year later for engaging in business activities with Mudalal.
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