Aug 06, 2020 18:03 UTC
  • Lebanon govt. gives investigative committee four days to find those responsible for Beirut blast

Lebanese Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe says the government has given four days to an investigative committee probing the massive explosion that ripped through the capital, Beirut, to determine responsibility for the devastating disaster.

“This morning, a decision was taken to create an investigative committee, which in four days' maximum must provide a detailed report on responsibility -- how, who, what, where? There will be judicial decisions,” Wehbe told Europe 1 radio station on Thursday.

“It is serious, and we take it seriously. Those responsible for this horrible crime of negligence will be punished by a committee of judges,” he added.

According to Lebanese officials, thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at the port in Beirut caused the massive explosion.

“It is an accident... preliminary reports indicate it is mismanagement of explosive products. This is a very serious neglect that continued for six years,” Wehbe said.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab is heading the committee, which includes the justice, interior and defense ministers and the head of Lebanon's top four security agencies: the Army, General Security, Internal Security Forces and State Security.

The committee has been tasked with reporting its findings to the cabinet, and the cabinet, in turn, will refer those findings to the judiciary.

On Wednesday, the government of Lebanon announced that those responsible for guarding and storage of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a substance used in making fertilizers and explosives, at the warehouse would be placed under house arrest “as soon as possible.”

The cargo had been stored at the port since it was confiscated from a ship more than six years ago. Based on the timeline and the size of the consignment, the ship could be the MV Rhosus.