Tags: Lebanon | Port | Blast

Prosecutor Orders Release of Beirut Port Blast Detainees

Prosecutor Orders Release of Beirut Port Blast Detainees

Wednesday, 25 January 2023 10:01 AM EST

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s top prosecutor Wednesday ordered all suspects detained in the deadly 2020 port blast in Beirut released, a lawyer for two detainees and judicial officials said.

The move by chief prosecutor Ghassan Oweidat is another blow to the investigation, which has stalled for years. The probe has threatened to rattle Lebanon’s ruling elite, which is rife with corruption and mismanagement and has helped push the country into an unprecedented economic meltdown.

The decision came after Judge Tarek Bitar on Monday resumed the investigation into the devastating port blast, following a 13-month halt over legal challenges raised by politicians accused in the probe — including the chief prosecutor.

Seventeen detainees have been held for years in pre-trial detention after the massive port blast on Aug. 4, 2020. Hundreds of tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, a material used in fertilizers, detonated at Beirut Port, killing 218 people, injuring over 6,000 and damaging large parts of the Lebanese capital.

Lawyer Sakher El Hachem, who represents two of the detainees, told The Associated Press that they received confirmation of the decision after inquiring to the judiciary, and that his clients would be released Wednesday.

The judicial officials added that Ouweidat, who defied Bitar’s decision to resume the paralyzed investigation, will press charges against him. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Ouweidat did not immediately respond to calls from the AP on the matter.

Judge Bitar is the second investigator to lead the probe into the port blast, and has charged over a dozen senior political, security, port and security officials.

On Monday, Bitar ordered the release of five of 17 detainees in the case and charged eight officials, among them top intelligence officials Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and Maj. Gen. Tony Saliba, as well as Oweidat.

The judge also summoned at least 14 politicians and judicial, security and customs officials for questioning throughout February. Senior officials have repeatedly refused to show up for questioning since the start of the probe.

Bitar took his post following the removal in Feb. 2021 of Judge Fadi Sawwan over complaints of bias by two Cabinet ministers, and if he is also removed, it could be the final blow to the investigation.

Lebanon’s political leadership have accused Bitar without evidence of being biased in his investigation, with some demanding his removal.

Associated Press writers Abby Sewell and Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


GlobalTalk
- Lebanon's top prosecutor Wednesday ordered all suspects detained in the deadly 2020 port blast in Beirut released, a lawyer for two detainees and judicial officials said.The move by chief prosecutor Ghassan Oweidat is another blow to the investigation, which has stalled...
Lebanon,Port,Blast
408
2023-01-25
Wednesday, 25 January 2023 10:01 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Sign up for Newsmax’s Daily Newsletter

Receive breaking news and original analysis - sent right to your inbox.

(Optional for Local News)
Privacy: We never share your email address.
Join the Newsmax Community
Read and Post Comments
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
 
 
TOP

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
NEWSMAX.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved