Some officials saw the risk of an explosion in Beirut and did not take action


© Reuters. File photo: A drone view of a 25-meter sculpture “gesture” by Lebanese architect Nadim Karam to commemorate the victims of the Beirut bombing last year at the port of the Lebanese capital on August 2, 2021. REUTERS/Imad Creidi/File Photo

Beirut (Reuters)-A report released by Human Rights Watch on Tuesday concluded that there is strong evidence that some Lebanese officials knew about and accepted storage in Beirut before the fatal explosion in Beirut port on August 4 last year. The fatal risk posed by ammonium nitrate in the port year.

Human Rights Watch called on the United Nations to investigate the explosion. The explosion was caused by chemicals stored unsafely in the port for many years. It killed more than 200 people, injured thousands and destroyed large areas of the Lebanese capital.

The report of the International Rights Watch contains more than 700 pages of findings and documents. Its investigation also concluded that there is evidence that multiple Lebanese authorities have criminal negligence in accordance with Lebanese law.

Human Rights Watch said that President Michel Aoun, caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Director General of National Security Tony Saliba and other former ministers wanted to be questioned by Judge Bitar, despite being informed of the risks. Failure to take action to protect the public.

Reuters sought comments from Aoun, Diab and Saliba on the report’s findings.

The presidential palace did not comment. Saliba said his agency did its best within its legal authority to submit legal reports to warn officials and only opened an office in the port a few months before the explosion. Diab did not immediately respond.

Aoun said on Friday that he is ready to testify that no one can be above the law.

Human Rights Watch’s report is based on official documents it reviewed and many interviews with senior officials including the president, the caretaker prime minister, and the head of national security.

The investigation followed up the incidents that occurred after the cargo was shipped to the port of Beirut since 2014, and tracked multiple hazard warnings to various official agencies.

The report said: “There is evidence that some government officials foresee that the presence of ammonium nitrate in the port may lead to death, and tacitly acknowledge the risk of death.”

It called on the UN Human Rights Council to authorize investigations into the bombings and called on foreign governments to impose human rights and corruption sanctions on officials.

The Lebanese investigation of the bombing led by Judge Tarek Bitar has stalled. Politicians and senior security officials have not yet been questioned, and requests to cancel their immunity have been blocked.

A document seen by Reuters was sent two weeks before the explosion, showing that the president and prime minister were warned that chemicals stored in the port pose a security risk and could destroy the capital.

(Written by Maha El Dahan, edited by Timothy Heritage)

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