Lebanon judge postpones Beirut blast probe of former PM

Lebanon judge postpones Beirut port blast probe of US-based former PM
2 min read
21 September, 2021
The questioning has been postponed after the former PM left Lebanon.
Former Lebanese PM Hassan Diab's new interrogation date is set for 4 October [Getty]

A judge has postponed the questioning of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab for his role in last year's deadly explosion at Beirut Port until 4 October, Lebanon's National News Agency reported on Monday.

Diab was meant to be questioned on 20 September after a subpoena from investigative judge Tarek Bitar - but the ex-PM travelled to the United States when due to be questioned on the issue, stating he already gave his testimony on the case and "has nothing new to say", according to his advisor, Laila Hatoum.

Diab had already failed to show up in court in relation to the case last month, after being summoned by investigative judge Tarek Bitar on accusations of intentional killing and negligence. 

Over 200 people died and 6,000 people were injured in the Beirut port explosion on 4 August 2020, where 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material, caught fire. 

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Diab resigned from his prime-ministerial duties following the explosion, but remained the caretaker head of government until a new cabinet was successfully formed by the new Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati earlier this month.

New Lebanese Justice Minister Henry Khoury told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site that investigations into the port explosion, led by Judge Bitar, should be conducted without political interference.

"Dealing with the Beirut explosion case will be judicial and within the law, and whoever has a problem with Judge Bitar… there is a judicial inspection body and procedures they can take," Khoury told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, adding that the inquiry was led by Bitar.

No one has yet been convicted in relation to the blast.