Sawan Receives Blast Lawsuit from Oueidat, to Begin Interrogations Monday
Judicial investigator into the Beirut port blast Judge Fadi Sawan on Friday received a lawsuit filed by State Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat against 25 people including 19 detainees, the National News Agency said.
Sawan also received the files of the preliminary investigations and started studying them ahead of the interrogations that he will kick off on Monday.
The lawsuit mentions 25 suspects, most notably the incumbent and former Customs chiefs and the director of Beirut’s port -- Badri Daher, Shafiq Merhi and Hasan Qureitem.
It also targets “anyone identified by the investigation as being a perpetrator, partner, interferer or negligent” in connection with the crimes of “negligence; dereliction; and causing the death of more than 177 people, the injury and disabling of thousands and the full destruction of Beirut’s port, houses belonging to citizens, and public and private properties.”
Oueidat requested the interrogation of the aforementioned suspects and the issuance of arrest warrants against them, NNA said.
Following wrangling between caretaker Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm and the Supreme Council for the Judiciary, Lebanese authorities named Sawan, with a reputation for independence and integrity according to judicial sources, to lead investigations into the explosion.
A Lebanese prosecutor will also question several ministers and former ministers over the explosion, a judicial official said Wednesday.
"The interrogations will begin with former public works minister Ghazi al-Aridi," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"If a shortcoming or negligence on the part of one of the questioned ministers is found, the judiciary will have to state that it does not have jurisdiction to sue them," the official explained.
The chief prosecutor will then have to transfer their file and connected evidence to parliament because the jurisdiction lies with a special council in charge of suing ministers and presidents.