The Lebanese prosecutor probing final summer time’s port explosion in Beirut filed prices on Thursday in opposition to the caretaker prime minister and three former ministers, accusing them of negligence resulting in the dying of lots of of individuals, Lebanon’s official information company mentioned.

Choose Fadi Sawwan filed the fees in opposition to Hassan Diab and former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil, in addition to Ghazi Zeiter and Youssef Fenianos, each former ministers of public works.

All 4 had been charged with carelessness and negligence resulting in dying over the Aug. four explosion at Beirut’s port, which killed greater than 200 individuals and injured hundreds. The explosion was brought on by the ignition of a giant stockpile of explosive materials that had been saved on the port for years, with the information of high safety officers and politicians.

The 4 are probably the most senior people to be indicted up to now within the probe, which is being performed in secrecy. Anger has been increase over the sluggish investigation, lack of solutions and the truth that no senior officers have been indicted.

About 30 different safety officers and port and customs officers have been detained within the probe up to now.

Diab, a former professor on the American College of Beirut who turned prime minister late final yr, obtained the backing of the influential Hezbollah group and its allies after prime minister Saad Hariri resigned within the wake of anti-government protests final yr.

Diab resigned a number of days after the August blast however has continued to perform in a caretaker capability whereas efforts to kind a brand new authorities have floundered amid political disputes.

Commenting on Thursday’s improvement, Diab mentioned his conscience is evident and that he’s “confident that his hands are clean and that he handled the Beirut port blast file in a responsible and transparent manner.”

A number of obvious warnings over potential hazard

In a press release issued by his workplace later Thursday, Diab mentioned he’s “surprised by this targeting that goes beyond the person to the position. Hassan Diab will not permit the position of the prime ministry to be targeted by anyone.”

Youssef Lahoud, a authorized consultant to 1,500 households affected by the blast, described Choose Sawwan’s transfer as an “essential step toward revealing the complete truth.”

Lahoud, who additionally represents the Beirut Bar Affiliation engaged on behalf of the households, mentioned an indictment does not imply incrimination and that it’s the five-member judicial council that may problem verdicts.

The blast is taken into account to be among the many largest non-nuclear explosions ever to be recorded.

A view of Beirut on Dec. 9 reveals the positioning of the August explosion on the metropolis’s port. (Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)

Paperwork surfaced quickly after the explosion displaying that no less than 10 instances over the previous six years, authorities from Lebanon’s customs, army, safety companies and judiciary raised the alarm {that a} large stockpile of probably harmful chemical compounds was being saved with virtually no safeguard on the port within the coronary heart of Beirut.

President Michel Aoun, in workplace since 2016, mentioned he was first informed of the stockpile practically three weeks earlier than the explosion and instantly ordered army and safety companies to do “what was needed.” However he recommended his duty ended there, saying he had no authority over the port and that earlier governments had been informed of its presence.

For the reason that materials arrived in Lebanon in late 2013, 4 prime ministers have been in workplace.

WATCH l The challenges Lebanon faces:

Former prime ministers Hariri, Najib Mikati and Tammam Salam have reportedly mentioned that they weren’t conscious of the existence of the fabric on the port. Diab has mentioned he was solely knowledgeable of the presence of the explosives days earlier and deliberate to go to the positioning. He informed reporters earlier this yr that he cancelled his go to to the port after he was informed that the fabric was fertilizer.

“There is a list to be made of all those who knew and should all be held responsible,” mentioned Elie Hasrouty, whose father died within the port explosion. “Their job is not to refer [the matter] to others, but to stop that bomb from going off and to protect people.”

Investigators probing the blast had up to now centered on personnel on the Port of Beirut. Choose Sawwan mentioned he has set subsequent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as dates for interrogating the 4 authorities officers as defendants.

Each Khalil and Fenanios had been sanctioned by the U.S. in September this yr, the primary two officers to be topic to sanctions exterior of the militant Hezbollah group, which has a job within the Lebanese authorities.

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