Former PM Diab Issued with New Subpoena by Blast Judge

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Former PM Diab Issued with New Subpoena by Blast Judge

The judge investigating the August 2020 Beirut port explosion, Tariq Bitar, has issued a new subpoena against former Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

Diab, who resigned as prime minister after the disaster, has been ordered to attend Beirut's main courthouse for questioning on Sept. 20.

This is the second time Bitar has subpoenaed Diab, after he changed his address following the formation of Lebanon's new government last week. The judge previously issued a subpoena to Diab on Aug. 26, after he failed to attend a hearing in which he was to be questioned about the blast. The next day, on Aug. 27, Parliament told the judge that he had exceeded his powers by subpoenaing Diab, who has denied any responsibility for the tragedy.

To date, no one has been held responsible for the explosion, which was caused by an unattended stock of ammonium nitrate left unsafely in Beirut's port. Over 200 people were killed, and neighborhoods across the capital were devastated.

Officials knew that the highly explosive substance had been in the port, in close proximity to residential areas, for years, and there have been widespread calls for those responsible for the disaster to be held to account.

But the inquiry has been repeatedly delayed. In February, Bitar's predecessor was removed by a court after he charged Diab and three former ministers with "negligence and causing death to hundreds" in the explosion.

Members of different political factions have previously criticized Bitar; the Shiite group, Hezbollah, has accused him of "politicizing" the inquiry, while a group of former prime ministers wrote a letter after the Diab was issued with the August subpoena, saying it was "a dangerous precedent and a deliberate measure that undermines the position of the prime minister".

Source: The Daily Star