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Lebanon: Aoun Ready to Answer Questions on Beirut Port Blast

Lebanon: Aoun Ready to Answer Questions on Beirut Port Blast

Saturday, 31 July, 2021 - 04:30
President Michel Aoun meets with Public Prosecutor Ghassan Oaidat. Dalati and Nohra photo

President Michel Aoun told Lebanon's public prosecutor on Friday he was ready to give a statement about last year's Beirut port blast if needed.

"No one is above the law no matter how high up, and justice can only be achieved through the specialized judicial branches that provide guarantees," Aoun told prosecutor Ghassan Oaidat during a meeting held at Baabda Palace, according to a statement released by the president's office.

The Aug. 4 explosion at the port, caused by a huge quantity of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical used in bombs and fertilizer, killed over 200 people, injured thousands and destroyed large swathes of the capital.

A probe into the blast led by judge Tarek Bitar has been hindered over the past month as requests sent to parliament and the government to lift immunity and enable questioning of several top officials were either declined or stalled.

Many Lebanese are angry that nearly a year after the incident, no senior official has yet been held responsible.

Also, major questions remain unanswered, including why the large shipment of ammonium nitrate, was left stored in the middle of a crowded city for years after being unloaded in 2013.

Speaker Nabih Berri said on Thursday the legislature was ready to lift the immunity of its members to allow for questioning but did not detail when or how this would be done.

"The priority of parliament was and will continue to be complete cooperation with the judiciary," he said in a statement

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