Two years after the double explosion at the port of Beirut, the investigation is still blocked

Two years after the double explosion at the port of Beirut, the investigation is still blocked

Over time, the families of the victims of the double explosion at the port of Beirut, which happened two years ago, on August 4, 2020, have seen the attention given to their cause disappear. The media does not cover their sit-in much anymore, on the 4th of every month. Anonymous rarely participates in gatherings.

“I’m sure the people are with us in their hearts. But everyone is caught up in the crisis., wants to believe in Ajwad Chaya, who does not miss a demonstration. His son, Jawad, a 30-year-old soldier, died in the massive explosion that killed more than 200 people and injured more than 6,000. “Even though we are a very small group, we, the relatives of the victims, will continue to act. We want to make criminals pay. Sooner or later the truth will come out. »

Two years after the disaster, the mystery of August 4 remains intact. The doubt is related first of all to the detonator, the way in which the fuel of the explosion was ignited – a stock of ammonium nitrate stored in 2014 in a port hangar: an accident due to welding work or otherwise a deliberate one that work? The reasons why this ticking time bomb was never defused, despite repeated warnings, are also not explained.

Antoine Sleiman, a mechanic, in his garage that was damaged in the August 4, 2020 explosion in Beirut in the nearby neighborhood of Quarantaine on August 2, 2022.

Under the Lebanese omerta, these questions tend to go unanswered. Subjected to violent attacks, slowed down by the delaying tactics of the accused personalities, especially a request for recusal, the Lebanese judge in charge of the investigation, Tarek Bitar, had to suspend his job in December 2021. According to a judicial source, the magistrate still needs a few months to complete his education. “Is the content of the investigation the reason for this outcry or the fear that there will be a precedent, the possibility of prosecuting senior officials? »question this source.

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Two days after the explosion, Charbel Wehbé, the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, said that an investigation committee would name those responsible for the tragedy in a few days. No one believed this promise. From the beginning, the fear of impunity, the principle that made possible the end of the civil war (1975-1990), weighed on this file.

Loads of responsibilities

“Sad: many Lebanese have resigned themselves to the idea that the investigation will be buried”, said Aya Majzoub, researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW). If failure has already begun, the dark hours of August 4, 2020 will continue to spark conversations. “People decide what happened and who is responsible based on their political views”, added Aya Majzoub. This has been the case, in fact, from the earliest days.

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