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Lebanese Judges Could be Summoned for Questioning over Port Blast

Lebanese Judges Could be Summoned for Questioning over Port Blast

Wednesday, 16 September, 2020 - 11:00
A man is evacuated at the site of the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, Aug. 4, 2020. (Reuters/ Mohammed Azakir)

The judiciary’s investigation into the Aug. 4 Beirut Port explosion is going in a slow pace with the list of detainees limited to 25 persons, judicial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.


But the sources said that ministers, politicians, security officials and judges could be soon summoned for questioning.


Investigative Judge Fadi Sawan heard the testimony of former Minister of Works and Transport Youssef Fenianos as a witness, then he interrogated two defendants in the case.


According to the sources, Fenianos “informed the judicial investigator that he had taken all the measures that fall within his powers, and that he presented all the documents he had on the case.”


Sawan will hear on Wednesday and Thursday the testimonies of security and military officials, including the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Defense, Major General Mahmoud Al-Asmar.


The judge will mainly inquire him on the withdrawal of the item pertaining to the presence of ammonium nitrate in the port from the agenda of the Council’s meeting a few days before the explosion.


Sources noted that the investigation “may include in the coming hours judges who received letters about the presence of ammonium nitrate in the port.”


Sawan aims to know the reasons that prevented them from "making a decisive decision to transfer the chemical to a safe place or to ship it abroad.”


Public Prosecutor Judge Ghassan Oweidat ordered the conclusion of the preliminary investigations conducted by the Lebanese army into the fire that broke out at the Beirut Port on Thursday. He also received the minutes of the interrogation of the three arrested workers, who had carried out the welding work at the site.


He referred the case to the Public Prosecution in Beirut, which would accuse the defendants of negligence after the outbreak of the fire and the destruction of public and private property.


In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Oweidat said: “There’s no indication that the fire was premeditated; rather it was the result of error and negligence in the maintenance work.”


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