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Beirut Port Blast Suspect Faces Extradition Hearing in Madrid

Beirut Port Blast Suspect Faces Extradition Hearing in Madrid

Friday, 22 April, 2022 - 06:15
A general view shows the grain silo damaged during the 2020 Beirut port explosion, in Beirut Lebanon January 17, 2022. (Reuters)

A Portuguese man faced an extradition hearing in Madrid over allegations he was involved in the devastating 2020 port explosion in Beirut, authorities said on Thursday.

The man, named in court as Jorge Manuel Mirra Neto Moreira, flew to Chile from the Spanish capital this week but was put on a plane back to Madrid after Chilean authorities detained him at the request of global police agency Interpol.

Lebanon's justice minister Henry Khoury did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Lebanon would seek the man's extradition.

Extradition processes in Spain can take several months.

Moreira is not allowed to leave Spain. His passport has been taken away and he must appear before authorities on a weekly basis, a judicial source said.

A juridical source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Moreira came to Beirut in 2014 and examined the cargo at Beirut port.

Former Investigative Judge Fadi Sawan issued Interpol Red Notices for Moreira and the captain, added the source.

A source from Portugal's national criminal investigation police unit PJ said Moreira had previously appeared before a court in the northern Portuguese city of Porto as a result of the Interpol notice, but the court shelved the case because Lebanon failed to send the required documentation.

The same could happen in Spain if Lebanon does not send the needed documentation, the PJ source said.

The massive port explosion on August 4, 2020, which was due to the unsafe storage of large quantities of ammonium nitrate, killed at least 214 people, while more than 6,500 were injured, and devastated entire neighborhoods of the capital.

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