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Beirut Explosion: Lebanese demand justice on port blast anniversary

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Lebanon's leading Christian cleric said there could be no immunity from prosecution over the catastrophic Beirut port blast and that officials were evading investigation, as many Lebanese marked the first anniversary by demanding justice. As Lebanon suffers a crippling economic collapse, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai also criticized the ruling class for failing to deal with the crisis - criticism echoed by Western powers at a Paris donors' conference. One year since the blast, caused by a huge quantity of ammonium nitrate kept at the port for years, no senior official has been held to account, infuriating many Lebanese. Lebanon's high-ranking government officials have been widely accused of obstructing the on-going investigation, and they continue to block the lead investigator Judge Tarek Bitar at every turn. And despite the intense pressure at home and abroad, Beirut lawyer Diane Assaf does not believe that the Lebanese legal system "is capable of reaching the truth or holding the murderers accountable." For there to be justice, Ms. Assaf asserts that "we need the establishment of an international, impartial and independent investigative mission. A letter has been sent from approximately 50-52 international NGOs and family victims to the United Nations Human Rights Council to demand an establishment of this investigative mission." Back in July, former PM Saad Hariri went as far as proposing a parliament vote on an amendment to the constitution that would waive immunity for high-ranking government officials. Ms. Assaf explains why that would not be a good idea. "His position is clearly to absorb the frustration and the anger of the Lebanese people, and amending the constitution is a very complicated and difficult process. It will probably never happen. They just need to lift the immunity (immediately) and no need to amend the constitution."

Added on the 14/08/2021 00:16:15 - Copyright : France 24 EN

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