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Lebanon’s Judiciary Continues Investigations Into Port Explosion

Lebanon’s Judiciary Continues Investigations Into Port Explosion

Tuesday, 11 August, 2020 - 11:30
Debris are seen in the port area after a blast in Beirut, Lebanon, August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The judicial and security investigations into the Beirut Port explosion are following several paths. State Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat started interrogating some of the arrested people, including security officials.

He questioned for two hours on Monday the State Security Chief, Major General Tony Saliba, before releasing him pending further investigations.

Meanwhile, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Director General of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), Major General Imad Othman, “will not be subject to any judicial investigation or accountability for what happened in the port, given that the ISF has neither authority over the port nor security checkpoints in any of its areas.”

Lebanon’s judiciary has not made a decision to arrest new suspects in the case.

A senior judge told Asharq Al-Awsat that there were currently 19 detainees, after two people were released pending investigations. He expected that more people will be arrested when further information is available.

“The pace of the investigation will accelerate as soon as the technical teams finish their work at the crime scene, especially when the reports of the French bomb experts, who are working with the Lebanese expert bodies, are completed,” the judge noted.

On whether current and former ministers will be subject to interrogation, the judicial source replied: “The investigation will include everyone who had an authority over this file and was aware of the presence of these materials in the port.”

Tremendous political pressure is being exerted on Oueidat, the judge revealed, especially with regards to the arrest of the Customs Director General Badri Daher. He stressed that the campaigns would not prevent the judiciary from “proceeding with its mission to uncover the truth and prosecute those responsible for the tragedy.”

In parallel, the Administrative, Security and Military Investigation Committee set up by the Supreme Defense Council is yet to issue its findings, despite the expiration of the five-day deadline given to it by the Council.

Well-informed sources said that the committee’s investigations were separate from those conducted by the judiciary, stressing that its mission would be difficult, especially after the arrest of Daher, one of its most prominent members, by a judicial order.”

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