Judge wants ministers investigated over Beirut port blast

BEIRUT (AFP) – The judge leading Lebanon’s probe into the deadly Beirut port blast wants three members of the Cabinet investigated over their possible responsibility in the disaster, a judicial source said on Tuesday.

On August 4, the explosion of hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands, and ravaged large parts of the capital.

The government resigned in the wake of the explosion, but has remained in a caretaker capacity as talks drag on to form a new one.

Judge Fadi Sawan in a letter asked Parliament to investigate Public Works and Transportation Minister Michel Najjar, Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni, and Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm, the judicial source said.

He also requested it probe the role of several former ministers who held the same positions in the previous three cabinets.

The letter to the legislative chamber came after Sawan’s own investigations raised “certain suspicions about the responsibility of those ministers and their failure towards addressing the presence of the ammonium nitrate at the port”, the source said.

The matter is being referred to the Parliament as it is the seat of a specialised higher council able to prosecute ministers.