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Beirut port investigation —

Caretaker Interior Minister Mohamed Fehmi has rejected Judge Tarek Bitar’s request to question the head of General Security, Abbas Ibrahim, in the Beirut blast probe, sources tell Reuters

Caretaker Interior Minister Mohamed Fehmi has rejected Judge Tarek Bitar’s request to question the head of General Security, Abbas Ibrahim, in the Beirut blast probe, sources tell Reuters

Caretaker Interior Minister Mohamed Fehmi. (Credit: Interior Ministry)

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s caretaker interior minister has rejected a request by the lead investigator into the Beirut port explosion to question one of its top security chiefs, according a document seen by Reuters, and judicial and security sources.

Nearly one year after the Aug. 4 explosion, which killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands more and devastated swathes of the capital, no senior officials have been held to account.

The blast was caused by a massive quantity of chemicals that had been unsafely stored at the port for years.

Interior Minister Mohamed Fehmi’s decision to reject Judge Tarek Bitar’s request to question security chief Major General Abbas Ibrahim, the head of the powerful General Security agency, was set out in a letter to the caretaker justice minister and seen by Reuters.

Bitar became the lead investigator into the blast after his predecessor, Judge Fadi Sawan, was removed in February.

Sawan had charged three ex-ministers and outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab with negligence over the blast, but they refused to be questioned as suspects, accusing him of overstepping his powers.

Bitar has written to Parliament asking for immunity to be lifted from former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, former Public Works Minister Ghazi Zeaiter and former Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk, the National News Agency reported last week.

A parliamentary committee convened on Friday to study the request.

After being charged by Sawan, Diab said his conscience was clear, Khalil said he had no role in the blast and Zeaiter called the charges “a blatant violation.” Machnouk has also denied any responsibility.


BEIRUT — Lebanon’s caretaker interior minister has rejected a request by the lead investigator into the Beirut port explosion to question one of its top security chiefs, according a document seen by Reuters, and judicial and security sources.Nearly one year after the Aug. 4 explosion, which killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands more and devastated swathes of the capital, no senior...