Lebanon seeks arrest of ex-minister charged with the Beirut blast

Youssef Fenianos, a former minister in the government of former PM Hassan Diab, has received an arrest warrant after failing to appear for questioning in front of the lead judge in the investigation surrounding the blast in the Port of Beirut.

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The lead judge in the investigation surrounding the blast in the Port of Beirut last year has issued an arrest warrant for a former government minister who failed to appear for questioning, Lebanese state media said.

Youssef Fenianos, the former public works minister, is one of the respective former government officials who has declined to appear before investigating judge Tarek Bitar.

For years, hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly dangerous material used in fertilizers, had been placed in the port. The material located in the port blasted on August 4, 2020, devastating parts of the capital Beirut.

The Lebanese investigation has been running into major obstacles, including the removal of Bitar’s predecessor on charges of violated the constitution by summoning government officials.

More than a year after the explosion, there are still no answers to what triggered the explosion, while no one has been held accountable.

Rights groups and local media revealed that most state officials knew of the presence of ammonium nitrate in the port but did nothing to remove it or properly store it. In an extensive report issued last month, Human Rights Watch said senior officials also knew of the risks posed by the highly explosive material and did nothing to protect the public against it.

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