Lebanese interim Prime Minister Hassan Diab refuses to attend hearing on his testimony in Beirut port explosion case

BEIRUT — Several months after the Beirut port explosion, the Lebanese judiciary, represented by Judge Tariq Bitar, has begun investigating the Lebanese authorities. He issued a summons against caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, three current members of parliament, and several executives of the security and military services. The court is investigating possible premeditation for the crime of murder, negligence, and causing the death and injury of hundreds of people.

On Thursday, Diab did not attend a hearing in which his testimony in the Beirut port explosion case was to be read, as he believed that the Presidential and Ministerial Court had jurisdiction to pursue the case. He refused to appear before the investigating judge.

Bitar was appointed in February last year to replace Investigating Judge Fadi Sawan, who was dismissed after his case against Diab and three former ministers in December last year without any of them appearing before him.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on all political leaders in Lebanon to urgently form an effective government, stressing that such a government must be able to provide immediate relief and justice to the Lebanese people.

He pointed out that the Lebanese people suffer every day from excessive inflation and severe shortages of fuel, electricity, medicines, and even clean water.

On 4 August 2020, ammonium nitrate improperly stored at a warehouse in Beirut’s port exploded, killing 218 people, injuring more than 7,000 others, and causing widespread damage which left hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

Prior to the explosion, the Lebanese economy was already in crisis with the poverty rate around 50%. The port disaster pushed it into complete meltdown.