March 5, 2021

Relatives of victims of Beirut port explosion burn tires during a protest

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Friends and relatives of victims of Beirut port explosion burn tires during a protest, after a Lebanese court removed the judge leading the investigation into the explosion, outside the Justice Palace in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, February 19.

A Lebanese court Thursday dismissed a judge who had charged top politicians with negligence over last year’s Beirut port explosion, infuriating families of victims who said it showed the state would never hold powerful men to account.

Judge Fadi Sawan had led the investigation into the largest non-nuclear blast in history. In December, he charged three ex-ministers and the outgoing prime minister with negligence.

Two hundred people died in the August blast when a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate, stored unsafely for years, detonated at the capital’s port. Thousands were injured and entire neighborhoods destroyed.

Families of the victims gathered at Beirut’s justice palace Thursday night to protest against Sawan’s removal from the probe. Clad in black, they cradled photos of their dead loved ones and held picket signs that read: “Where are the investigation results?”


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