Lebanon choose seeks arrest of ex-minister charged in Beirut blast

Judge points arrest warrant after former public works minister Youssef Fenianos fails to look for questioning.

The lead choose investigating Lebanon’s huge port explosion final 12 months has issued an arrest warrant for a former authorities minister who failed to look for questioning, state media has reported.

Youssef Fenianos, the previous public works minister, is certainly one of a number of former authorities officers who’ve declined to look earlier than investigating choose Tarek Bitar.

The whereabouts of Fenianos are unknown, however he’s considered in Lebanon. The 57-year-old headed the ministry from 2016 to 2020.

A judicial supply confirmed that the warrant was issued on Thursday, the AFP information company reported.

Bitar has charged Fenianos and three different former senior authorities officers with intentional killing and negligence that led to the deaths of greater than 200 folks within the blast and greater than 6,000 wounded.

Bitar additionally summoned the previous and present safety chiefs. The former prime minister has additionally refused to look earlier than the choose.

Hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a extremely explosive materials utilized in fertilisers, had been improperly saved within the port for years. It exploded on August 4, 2020, devastating components of the capital Beirut.

The Lebanese investigation has been working into main obstacles, together with the elimination of Bitar’s predecessor on prices he violated the structure by summoning authorities officers.

More than a 12 months after the blast, there are nonetheless no solutions to what triggered the explosion, and nobody has been held accountable.

Rights teams and native media revealed that almost all state officers knew of the presence of ammonium nitrate within the port however did nothing to take away it or correctly retailer it and in an intensive report issued final month, Human Rights Watch mentioned senior officers additionally knew of the dangers posed by the extremely explosive materials and did nothing to guard the general public in opposition to it.

Survivors demand UN-backed probe

On Wednesday, greater than 140 native and worldwide organisations and survivors of the blast have repeated a name issued earlier urging a UN-backed investigation into the blast to mete out justice.

In their plea, the teams mentioned authorities officers have refused to look for questioning and authorities declined to raise immunity to permit for prosecution of members of parliament or senior authorities and safety officers.

“Political leaders have attempted to cast doubt on Judge Bitar’s impartiality, accusing him of being politicised,” the teams mentioned and criticised Lebanese safety forces for forcefully breaking apart protests by households of the blast victims on at the very least two events.

“The failures of the domestic investigation to ensure accountability dramatically illustrates the larger culture of impunity for officials that has long been the case in Lebanon.”

Fenianos’s authorized group argued Thursday that the matter is now not for Judge Bitar to analyze after parliament opened a overview into the costs levelled in opposition to legislators and authorities officers.

The blast was one of many largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded and was probably the most damaging single incident in Lebanon’s troubled historical past.

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