Guterres ‘welcomes’ reopening of investigation into Beirut port explosion

File – File image of a march by relatives of the victims of the 2020 Beirut port explosion on the second anniversary, Lebanon. – Marwan Naamani/dpa

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has welcomed the reopening of the investigation into the August 2020 explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, after it had been suspended for 13 months.

Guterres’ spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, recalled that «the Secretary-General has been very clear from the outset that the victims of the explosion and their families (…) deserve a robust investigation that will lead to accountability for those who had a hand in bringing about this disaster.»

Dujarric insisted at a press conference that what he would like to see from the UN is «a robust, open and transparent investigation and accountability».

Lebanese Judge Tarek Bitar resumed investigations into the August 2020 explosion at the port of the capital Beirut on Monday after more than a year suspended due to several lawsuits against him that led to the stalling of the inquiries.

Bitar detailed in declarations to the newspaper ‘L’Orient le Jour’ that the restart of the investigations had been adopted after «legal studies carried out for a month to get out of the paralysis in which the investigation was plunged by multiple judicial appeals».

Following this, the chief investigator of the explosion indicted on Tuesday the country’s prosecutor general, Ghasan Ueidat, and three other judges, a measure which provoked the reaction of the Prosecutor’s Office, which filed a notice before the courts so that the indictments would not be applied, considering them invalid.

Popular unrest has been on the rise in recent months due to the blockage of the investigations and the delays in the removal of the immunity of the former ministers and parliamentarians whom Judge Bitar has summoned to testify in the framework of the investigations, among them former Prime Minister Hasan Diab, who resigned amid the wave of protests following the event.