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Lebanon's Prosecutor General Charges 25 over Port Blast

Lebanon's Prosecutor General Charges 25 over Port Blast

Friday, 14 August, 2020 - 18:45
Civil Defense teams are seen at the site of the Beirut port blast. (AP)

Lebanon’s Prosecutor General Ghassan Oweidat has pressed charges against 25 people, including senior port and customs officials and security officers, over the massive Beirut port blast that killed 172 people, a judicial source told Reuters on Friday.

It was not immediately clear what the exact charges were.

Legal sources said the suspects would now be referred to a criminal court to be tried.

The judicial source said 19 of them were detained following the Aug. 4 explosion at a warehouse that Lebanese authorities said housed highly-explosive material for years which detonated.

The explosion is believed to have been caused by a fire that ignited a 2,750-ton stockpile of ammonium nitrate that had been stored at the port since 2013 with few safeguards despite numerous warnings of the danger.

The result was a disaster that the Lebanese people blame squarely on their leadership’s corruption and neglect. Losses from the explosion are estimated at $10 billion to $15 billion, with nearly 300,000 people left homeless.

President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Hassan Diab - whose government resigned Monday after public fury - and a host of officials had documents warning an explosion of the material could destroy Beirut. Aoun and Diab insisted they had referred the warning to the appropriate authorities.

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