| 20 May 2024, Monday |

Judge Bitar interrogates Qaisi, Mawla in port blast probe

Judge Bitar, a newly appointed judicial investigator into the Beirut port blast probe, interrogated on Friday the director general of of land and maritime transport, Abdel Hafeez Qaisi, and the director of the port, Mohamad Mawla, who are detained in relation to the case, sources told Sawt Beirut International (SBI).

The two detainees were interrogated in the presence of their lawyers and in the presence of legal representatives of the Beirut Bar Association acting on behalf of the families of victims and those affected by the explosion.

Judge Bitar is due to interrogate the Lebanese Customs chief Badri Daher and other employees on Monday.

Bitar has been examining thousands of documents about the Beirut port investigation, which had been handled by his predecessor Judge Fadi Sawan.

On August 4th, 2020, a large explosion, caused by improperly stored ammonium nitrate, occurred at the Port of Beirut, killing at least 200 people, injuring more than 6,000 and rendering 300,000 others homeless.

Large sections of the port and its infrastructure were destroyed, including most of Beirut’s grain reserves, and billions of dollars in damages were inflicted across the city.

Families of people killed in the explosion have been holding protests after a court removed Judge Sawan in a severe setback to their campaign to hold those in power to account.

Sawan charged 3 ex-ministers and the outgoing prime minister with negligence over the explosion in December, but the four did not appear for questioning and accused him of overstepping his powers.