An adviser said the former Lebanese prime minister left the country for the United States despite a subpoena from the judge investigating last year’s devastating explosion in Beirut port
BEIRUT – The former Lebanese prime minister left the country for the United States on Tuesday, his adviser said, despite a subpoena from the judge investigating last year’s devastating explosion in the port of Beirut.
Hassan Diab was the prime minister of the country when the explosion occurred on August 4, 2020. He resigned after the explosion that left more than 200 dead and more than 6,000 injured, leaving large parts of the city devastated .
Diab was acting prime minister until last week, when Najib Mikati succeeded in forming a new government, ending months of political haggling.
As interim prime minister, Diab was summoned by investigating magistrate Tarek Bitar on charges of intentional murder and negligence. Diab declined to be questioned as a defendant, saying he testified in the case. Diab maintains that the judges investigating the case violated Lebanese laws which require that as a senior government official he can only be summoned after parliamentary approval.
When Diab failed to show up for investigation last month, Bitar issued a subpoena and the new interrogation date was set for next Monday.
On Tuesday, Bitar issued a new subpoena to include his home address after he stepped down as prime minister.
“He has nothing new to say,” said Laila Hatoum, Diab advisor. “He considers that he has nothing to do with any of this until parliament decides how to proceed.”
Hatoum said Diab has gone on a planned trip to visit his children who are studying in the United States. He hasn’t seen them since he took office, she said.
Hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material used in fertilizers that had been improperly stored in the port for years, exploded on August 4, 2020. Investigation shows that most government officials were familiar with the materials dangerous stored in the port.
Diab told The Associated Press in an interview last year that he was being singled out and accused when others knew more.