BEIRUT (AFP) – A key figure among the families of Beirut’s 2020 port explosion victims was released on Saturday after his arrest a day earlier sparked protests in the Lebanese capital.
William Noun – whose brother, a fireman, was killed in the devastating August 4, 2020 port blast – was arrested on Friday over remarks made during a television programme, a judiciary source told AFP.
Noun is among those who have been urging the continuation of a probe – on hold for more than a year due to political pressure – into the explosion, which killed more than 215 people, injured thousands and decimated vast areas of the capital.
“We just want the full truth, and that justice be served,” Noun told journalists upon his release on Saturday afternoon. Known for his outspokenness, Noun had threatened during televised remarks on Thursday to “blow up the palace of justice” to protest moves to replace the judge investigating the blast.
His arrest had sparked demonstrations on Friday night, while activists gathered earlier on Saturday outside the Beirut police station where he was being held. Embattled judge Tarek Bitar has faced a series of complaints against him, part of a campaign led by Shiite group Hezbollah and its allies seeking to block his probe into the blast.
The 2020 disaster, one of history’s biggest non-nuclear explosions, came after a stockpile of haphazardly stored ammonium nitrate caught fire.