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Hariri Demands Lifting Immunity of All Officials Involved in Port Blast Probe

Hariri Demands Lifting Immunity of All Officials Involved in Port Blast Probe

Wednesday, 28 July, 2021 - 09:30
A general view shows the damage at the site of the blast in Beirut’s port area, Lebanon August 5, 2020. Reuters/ Mohammed Azakir

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri has not ruled out “negligence” on behalf of President Michel Aoun on last year’s Beirut Port explosion, announcing that Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc has submitted a proposal to suspend all legal clauses that provide immunity to the President of the Republic, heads of government and deputies, ministers, and lawyers to pave way for their prosecution in the case.

Around 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut's port caused a blast that devastated the city on August 4, 2020. The explosion also killed more than 200 people and caused millions of dollars' worth of damage.

“It is the right of the Lebanese to know who brought the nitrate and who is behind this disaster,” Hariri said in a press conference in Beirut on Tuesday, denying allegations that his Mustaqbal Movement was against lifting immunity.

“Our proposal is to take an extraordinary decision to suspend all constitutional and legal clauses that grant immunity or special treatment to take to trial the president of the republic, the prime minister, ministers, representatives, judges, officials and even lawyers,” the former premier added.

Hariri continued: “Talks that our parliamentary bloc […] signed a petition not to prosecute the accused is the peak of slander and lies, and today we refute all these fabrications and demand equality before the judiciary.”

Earlier this month, Investigative judge Tarek Bitar had requested to lift the immunity of MPs and former ministers Nohad Machnouk, Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter, as well as former Minister Youssef Fenianos, to allow their questioning in the explosion.

Following a meeting with Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati on Tuesday, Machnouk suggested “amending the constitution to lif immunities in the case of the Beirut port explosion and in all cases referred to the Judicial Council.”

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