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PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY

MP and former Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk reveals “the only report” he claims to have received regarding the shipment that brought the ammonium nitrate that exploded at the port on Aug. 4 to Beirut

MP and former Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk reveals “the only report” he claims to have received regarding the shipment that brought the ammonium nitrate that exploded at the port on Aug. 4 to Beirut

Demonstrators hold portraits of relatives killed in the Beirut port blast. (Credit: Anwar Amro/AFP)

BEIRUT — On the eve of a deadline for Parliament to reach a decision on lifting immunity from prosecution in the Beirut port blast probe for three sitting MPs and former ministers, one of the MPs hosted a press conference to “appeal to the public” with his side of the story.

MP and former Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk on Friday gave his account of the information he possessed in relation to thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate that detonated in Beirut port last August, having arrived in late 2013 and remained there during his tenure as interior minister.

Machnouk, who the investigation into the devastating explosion is seeking to prosecute, explained that he received a document about the Rhosus, the vessel carrying the ammonium nitrate, and its contents in 2014 and asked “what the nitrates are for.” The answer, he says, was always “a substance used in agricultural fertilizers.”

Judge Tarek Bitar, who is leading the blast probe, earlier this month, requested permission to prosecute Machnouk alongside two other sitting MPs: former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and former Public Works Minister Ghazi Zeaiter. For such permission to be granted, Parliament must agree to lift the MPs parliamentary immunity. Two weeks ago Parliament set tomorrow as a deadline for deciding on the matter.

During his press conference, Machnouk held a copy of “the only document” he said he received regarding the ship that carried the ammonium nitrate, which was supposedly heading from Georgia to Mozambique when it stopped in Beirut. Machnouk said that the document did not claim that the shipment would be unloaded at the port.

“Since the judicial investigator appealed to the public, I, too, have the right to appeal to the public,” Machnouk said, explaining his reasoning for holding the press conference.


BEIRUT — On the eve of a deadline for Parliament to reach a decision on lifting immunity from prosecution in the Beirut port blast probe for three sitting MPs and former ministers, one of the MPs hosted a press conference to “appeal to the public” with his side of the story.MP and former Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk on Friday gave his account of the information he possessed in...