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Lebanon’s highest court suspended the arrest warrants for two former cabinet ministers in connection with the 2020 Beirut port blast, the latest twist in an ongoing investigation into one of the world’s largest non-nuclear explosions, the Associated Press reported.
This month, the court of cassation lifted the warrants against former public works minister, Youssef Fenianos, as well as former finance minister and current member of parliament Ali Hassan Khalil.
The warrants were first issued by Judge Tarek Bitar in 2021, who accused both ministers and two other officials of homicide and negligence that led to the port explosion more than three years ago.
In response, Fenianos had sought Bitar’s removal, citing “legitimate suspicion” in handling the case. Some other politicians and officials have also called for Bitar’s removal as anger and criticism by families of the victims and rights groups have grown, with the investigation being stalled for more than a year.
The August 2020 blast killed more than 200 people, injured 6,000 and devastated large sections of the Lebanese capital. Rights groups and local media said state officials were aware for years of the improper storage of hundreds of tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, commonly used in fertilizers, in the port.
But despite three years of investigations and arrest warrants, there are still no answers to what caused the explosions and no one has been held accountable.