Rights Group Accuses Lebanese Gov't of Obstructing Probe Into Last Year's Beirut Blast
© AFP 2021 / JOSEPH EIDA picture shows a view of the damaged grain silos at the port of the Lebanese capital Beirut, on April 9, 2021, still reeling from the destruction due to a catastrophic blast in a harbour storage unit last August that killed more than 200 people and damaged swathes of the capital, with the Togo-flagged "Fatima M" bulk carrier ship moored nearby.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The victims of the devastating explosion in Beirut last August are still searching for justice, while the Lebanese authorities spent the past year trying to "shamelessly" block their efforts, a prominent international human rights group said on Monday.
"Throughout the year, the Lebanese authorities’ relentless efforts to shield officials from scrutiny have repeatedly hampered the course of the investigation. Authorities dismissed the first judge appointed to the investigation after he summoned political figures for questioning, and have so far rejected the new investigative judge’s requests to lift MPs’ immunity and to question senior members of the security forces in connection with the tragedy," the group said in a press release.
Instead of the promised swift investigation, the government has "brazenly blocked and stalled justice at every turn, despite a tireless campaign for justice and criminal accountability by survivors and families of victims," Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International Lynn Maalouf was quoted as saying.
In June, the rights group, along with over 50 Lebanese and international organisations, appealed to the UN Human Rights Council, asking to launch an international investigation into the blast, for example, dispatch a one-year fact-finding mission.
Roughly a year ago, the port of Beirut was rocked by a powerful blast, as 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate wiped out much of the port and surrounding neighbourhoods, leaving over 200 people dead and thousands of others injured. Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the blast on 4 August, Amnesty International said that the government did nothing to help the investigation into the incident.