Two more charged over massive Beirut port blast in August

Prosecutor names current senior customs official and a former customs chief with ties to Hezbollah

A general view shows the aftermath at the site of Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Aziz Taher
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A Lebanese prosecutor filed charges against current and former customs officials over the massive blast at Beirut’s port in August, including a former customs chief who was reportedly the point man for the militant Hezbollah group at the facility.

State prosecutor Ghassan Khoury charged senior customs official Hani Haj Shehadeh and former customs chief in Beirut, Moussa Hazimeh, on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday, quoting Lebanon's National News Agency. The report didn’t reveal the charges or give additional details.

Mr Hazimeh was reportedly the point man for Hezbollah at the Port of Beirut when nearly 3,000 tons of highly explosive fertiliser were stored there more than six years ago.

The 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate blew up August 4, killing more than 200 people, injuring thousands and causing damage worth billions of dollars, mostly in nearby neighborhoods.

National News Agency said that in charging Mr Shehadeh and Mr Hazimeh, the number of those now charged in connection with the explosion reached 33, of whom 25 are under arrest. None of the charges have been made public and the process has been highly secretive.

NNA said the new cases were referred to Judge Fadi Sawwan, who is probing the blast. It said Judge Sawwan had questioned the two earlier as witnesses but they will be questioned again as suspects.

The report comes amid complaints the investigation is moving too slowly. Families of the victims are desperate to know what triggered the blast, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history.