Former Lebanese PM Hassan Diab leaves for US days before port blast questioning

Former prime minister will miss scheduled questioning by investigating judge on Monday, despite being summoned

FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab arrives at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon January 22, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo
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Lebanon’s former prime minister, Hassan Diab, has left the country for the US days before he was scheduled to appear for questioning at the investigation into the Beirut port blast.

Mr Diab said from a plane that he was visiting the US for four weeks, travelling via Istanbul, on a planned trip to see his two sons who are studying medicine in America.

His wife, a lecturer at the Lebanese American University, has stayed in Lebanon.

Mr Diab said he had made it clear that he intended to travel after a government was formed.

He will be unable to appear for questioning despite having been summoned by Judge Tarek Bitar to a hearing scheduled for Monday.

Mr Diab had been out of office less than a week before his departure on Tuesday after 13 months of leading a caretaker government.

He earlier failed to appear for questioning when summoned on August 26, prompting Mr Bitar to issue an “enforceable summons” for him to appear next Monday.

In December, Mr Diab was charged, alongside three other former ministers, with negligence in connection to the explosion at Beirut port on August 4, 2020, in which more than 200 people were killed.

He resigned as prime minister, alongside his cabinet, in the days after the blast.

Last week Najib Mikati finally managed to reach agreement with President Michel Aoun on a new government line-up.

One European diplomat who met regularly with Mr Diab told The National that he had often seemed uncomfortable throughout his time as caretaker prime minister and interested only in leaving the job.

Updated: September 15, 2021, 12:09 PM