Blast rocks Beirut office of lawyer involved in trial of port explosion

Sakher El Hachem is counsel for one of the suspects in the explosion at Beirut port last August

(FILES) This file photo taken on May 27, 2021 shows the grain silos at Beirut port, almost a year after the August 4 massive explosion that killed more than 200 people and injured scores of others. Rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called on June 15, 2021 for a UN investigation into last year's port blast in Lebanon's capital Beirut in light of a stalled domestic probe.
Despite growing calls at home and abroad for an impartial investigation, Lebanese authorities have repeatedly said they reject an international probe. / AFP / Joseph EID

A blast has ripped through the office of a prominent lawyer defending a suspect for the explosion at Beirut port last August.

Images posted to social media showed the damage at the office of Sakher El Hachem in the Fern Al Chebbek neighbourhood of Beirut. Nobody was harmed in the incident, and the cause of the blast was not immediately clear.

Speaking to local media, Mr Hachem said he thought it was unlikely the blast was caused by gas or electricity faults.

"We hope that the explosion was not a message about the investigation," he told Lebanese broadcaster Al Jadeed.

Mr Hachem has a reputation for taking on controversial clients, serving as the counsel for the head of Beirut port Hassan Koraytem since his arrest shortly after the explosion in August last year.

Mr Koraytem was one of the few officials arrested over the blast which killed more than 200 people and injured thousands more.

He is also listed as the legal representative for Nissan in Lebanon, and has been representing the company as the drama over fugitive businessman Carlos Ghosn's escape from Japanese custody for exile in Lebanon unfolded.

More to follow