clashes between Lebanese riot police and families of Beirut explosion victims

clashes between Lebanese riot police and families of Beirut explosion victims

Beirut, Lebanon – Riot police beat and gassed the families of protesters of Beirut explosion victims outside the Beirut residence of the Lebanese Interior Minister on Tuesday.
Protesters were holding placards of their lost family members and challenged Acting Interior Minister Mohamad Fahmy for rejecting a legal request to question the head of general security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim.

Riot police surrounded the building as protesters attempted to break in. Some scaled its exterior walls, sprayed graffiti on the building and placed empty coffins at its entrance. Security forces and plainclothes officers beat some of the protesters who tried to break through with batons.

“Criminals are not held accountable and justice wants them to be summoned,” lawyer and activist Wasif Harake told Al Jazeera. “If they are not summoned, then the people will take matters into their own hands and hold them accountable themselves. “

Protesters threw tomatoes, water bottles and stones as the clashes escalated. Security forces fired tear gas to clear the area.

Earlier, protesters gathered near parliament to demand that lawmakers lift the immunities of three lawmakers and former ministers so that they can be questioned about the massive explosion at the port of Beirut that killed 211 people.

The crowd managed to smash two metal gates leading to the building [Kareem Chehayeb/Al Jazeera]

Raise immunity

The investigation into a devastating explosion 11 months ago continues to stall.

On July 2, investigating magistrate Tarek Bitar announced legal proceedings against a handful of politicians and senior security officials, including Major General Ibrahim.

Bitar asked the Home Office for permission to question Ibrahim and the head of state security, Major General Tony Saliba. However, Fahmy rejected Bitar’s request last week.

Bitar also called on parliament to lift the immunity of former finance minister Ali Hasan Khalil, former public works minister Ghazi Zaiter and former interior minister Nohad Machnouk. Parliamentarians continue to delay this decision.

The deadly explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4 also injured more than 6,500 people, after hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded in a dockside warehouse.

In February, a Lebanese court dismissed Bitar’s predecessor, Judge Fadi Sawan, after indicting three former ministers and incumbent Prime Minister Hasan Diab with negligence.

More than a dozen black-clad women snuck out carrying posters of loved ones who died in the blast [Kareem Chehayeb/Al Jazeera]


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