Angry relatives of Beirut blast victims protest probe delays By Reuters


© Reuters. Demonstrators carry banners and flags throughout a protest in entrance of the Justice Palace after a probe into Beirut blast was frozen, in Beirut, Lebanon September 29, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir


By Issam Abdallah

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Tons of of family members of victims of final 12 months’s Beirut port explosion, some chanting and a few silent, took to the streets on Wednesday offended that an investigation into the catastrophe had been delayed for the second time this 12 months.

Some carried miniature figures of individuals on demise row with indicators under studying “the tip for anybody corrupt”, whereas others stood in silence, carrying pictures of their family members.

Highly effective events together with the Shi’ite group Hezbollah and others within the ruling elite have alleged bias within the investigation. Some within the crowd chanted “Hezbollah are terrorists”.

The demonstrators gathered in entrance of Beirut’s Palace of Justice offended that greater than a 12 months on, no high officers have been held accountable for an explosion that killed greater than 200 individuals, wounded hundreds and destroyed massive swathes of the capital.

“We are attempting the unimaginable to succeed in a outcome on this probe,” Joumana Khalifa, whose cousin and pals had been killed within the blast, stated.

The blast, one of many largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded, was brought on by an enormous amount of ammonium nitrate that was unsafely saved on the port from 2013.

The probe was frozen on Monday on the premise of a authorized criticism by Nohad Machnouk, a Sunni Muslim lawmaker and former inside minister, whom the lead investigating choose, Tarek Bitar, needs to query on suspicion of negligence.

Machnouk’s declare calls Bitar’s impartiality into query. Ought to the court docket of cassation settle for the declare, Bitar will likely be eliminated.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati has stated he hoped Bitar would proceed in his position. The French overseas ministry additionally stated it regretted the suspension of the investigation.

The transfer adopted a smear marketing campaign by Lebanon’s political class towards Bitar, the second choose to steer the probe after his predecessor was compelled out following related accusations by officers he needed to query about suspected negligence.

One protester stated politicians had been appearing with impunity.

“I misplaced my father whereas he was sitting with us at house,” Mohieldin Ladkani stated, including that he and different relations had been injured.

“In the event that they take away the file from Bitar meaning they’re behaving like they’re above the regulation,” he stated. “And if they’re above the regulation, then why aren’t the households of the victims above the regulation and take issues into our personal arms?”

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