Dec. 10 (UPI) — A judge in Lebanon on Thursday charged outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab and three former department ministers with negligence in connection with the explosions that killed hundreds at the Port of Beirut four months ago.
Judge Fadi Sawan charged Diab, former public works ministers Ghazi Zaeiter and Youssef Fenianos and former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil in the blasts.
The explosions and resulting fires at the port on Aug. 4 killed more than 200 people, injured thousands and left 300,000 homeless. Investigators say 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been warehoused at the port for years set off the explosions.
The blasts, coupled with the country’s ongoing economic crisis, led many in Lebanon to demand government accountability. Critics say leaders knew about the ammonium nitrate being stored at the port.
Diab said Thursday he was surprised by the charges, but added that his “conscience is clear.”
Khalil and Zaieter are both longtime Lebanon government leaders Fenianos is a senior official in the Marada Movement of Christian leader Suleiman Frangieh. They were charged because they were in office when the ammonium nitrate originally arrived at the Port of Beirut almost a decade ago.
Abdel-Hafiz al-Kaissy, the director of land and maritime transport in charge of the port, has also been charged in the case.