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Beirut blast … Two former ministers miss a court questioning session

Two former ministers in Lebanon accused of negligence and negligence in connection with the Beirut Port bombing were absent from today’s interrogation session before the judge handling the case, and he said that they had not been officially informed of the session, while the judge set a new date for their hearing.

Last Thursday, the judicial judge in the port bombing case, Fadi Sawan, charged caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, and former ministers of public works and transportation Ghazi Zuaiter and Youssef Fenianous on charges of “negligence, negligence and causing the death of hundreds of people.”

Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zuaiter said that they had not received official notification of Wednesday’s session, as required by protocol. Both men are representatives of the Amal Movement, the Shiite party headed by Speaker Nabih Berri and an ally of Hezbollah.

Clarifications of the judge

Meanwhile, the National Media Agency said that Judge Sawan postponed the questioning of the two former ministers to the fourth of next January, after they were absent from the session that was scheduled for today as defendants, and “the lack of an official answer stating whether they received the notification notes and informed of its content.”

The agency added that the justice judge heard today the testimony of a former senior officer in the army as a witness, the former Chief of Staff of the Lebanese Army, Major General Walid Salman.

Hassan Diab, whose government resigned after the port explosion, refused to be questioned the day before Monday, and an official source said that the judge had set a new date for tomorrow, Friday, but he has not received a response yet.

After he was charged last week, Diab said that he was clear of conscience regarding his handling of the blast file. He added in a statement that he was “confident of his clean hand and his responsible and transparent handling of the Beirut port explosion file. He is surprised at this targeting that exceeds the person to the site, and will not allow targeting the Presidency site.” Government from whichever side it is. “

The two ministers’ responses

Former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said he had no role in the blast, and the Ministry of Finance, which he took over from 2014 until early 2020, oversees customs. As for the former minister, Ghazi Zuaiter, he described the Lebanese judiciary’s accusation of negligence regarding the explosion of the port of a flagrant violation, and he who took over the Ministry of Public Works in 2014, shortly after the arrival of the ship carrying ammonium nitrate to the Beirut port.

On August 4, a huge explosion occurred in Ward No. 12 of Beirut Port, and according to official estimates, it contained about 2,750 tons of high explosive ammonium nitrate, which was confiscated from a ship and stored since 2014. The explosion killed more than 200 People and injured 6,500 others. Diab’s government has resigned over the explosion, but it is still doing business for not forming a new government until now.

The four officials are the first politicians identified by Sawan in the Al Marfa case, according to which at least 25 high-ranking people in charge of the port’s management and security were arrested, and three others were issued in absentia arrest warrants for being outside Lebanon.

Political controversy

The indictment by the Lebanese judiciary of Hassan Diab and the former ministers sparked a debate over whether the judge has the power to accuse politicians in a country that is still seeking answers to the explosion.

Judge Al-Adli was strongly criticized by some of the main parties for his decision, including Hezbollah and the Future Movement, headed by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri.

Conversely, the head of the Beirut Bar Association, Melhem Khalaf and others, say that the judge’s decision shows courage.

Last month, the judicial investigator asked the Lebanese Parliament to investigate the political responsibility of current and former ministers for the incident, on suspicion of having committed violations or crimes related to the explosion. And his jurisdiction. “

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