BEIRUT — The head of the security department at the port of Beirut, Ziad al-Awf, who was among the 17 people still detained in the Beirut port blast probe and released on Wednesday, returned to the United States shortly after his release, his lawyer Sakhr Hachem confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour.
He allegedly left Lebanese territory before a travel ban could be issued against him.
Awf is one of 17 people released on Wednesday by order of the Prosecutor General at the Court of Cassation Ghassan Oueidat, along with the director of customs Badri Daher and former port director Hassan Koraytem.
Prosecutor Oueidat, who is himself being prosecuted in the Aug. 4, 2020 port blast investigation, also filed charges for "rebellion against justice" and "usurpation of power" against lead investigating judge Tarek Bitar, who has refused to be removed from the case. Oueidat also slapped Bitar with a ban on leaving the Lebanese territory.
Oueidat's decisions have caused an outcry among relatives of the victims, who gathered in the dozens outside Beirut's Justice Palace Thursday.
The port explosion killed more than 220 people and injured 6,500 others due to a huge stock of ammonium nitrate stored for years without sufficient safety measures.