Families of Beirut blast victims desperate for answers

'Who killed my father?': families of Beirut blast victims desperate for answers
Shushan Bezdjian (centre) 53. Her daughter Jessica, 22, in the picture she is holding was a nurse at the Greek Orthodox Hospital and died in the blast. Sunniva Rose / The National

The National News : 'Who killed my father?': families of Beirut blast victims desperate for answers‘Who killed my father?’: families of Beirut blast victims desperate for answers

Families of Beirut port explosion say they are desperate for answers and financial help, but the judge in charge of the investigation refuses to hold influential politicians accountable, a local watchdog told The National on Wednesday.

“I came here to know who killed my father,” said Ahmad Lazekani, 23.

The third-year data science student on Wednesday took part in a small protest near the Lebanese Parliament with two dozen other friends and relatives of people who died in the blast on August 4.

Local officials have blamed poor security measures for the ignition of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at the port, in one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in recent history.

About 205 people died and thousands were injured in the blast, which devastated large parts of Beirut, destroying tens of thousands of homes.

“We were at home and the door fell and broke in front of him, » Mr Lazekani said of his father Mohammad, 55.

« He had bleeding in his head and all his bones broke. They cut his fingers. »

Families of Beirut blast victims desperate for answers
A helicopter puts out a fire at the scene of an explosion at the port of Lebanon’s capital Beirut on August 4, 2020. AFP

He said he did not trust the Lebanese judiciary to hold those responsible accountable for his father’s death.

“For 30 years they have been in power and they are all thieves,” Mr Lazekani said.

He was referring to the country’s political class, which has ruled since the end of the civil war in 1990.

“My biggest hope is to leave Lebanon when I finish my studies. I’ll throw my ID away in the garbage.”

Several politicians, including President Michel Aoun and caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, said they had been made aware of the dangerous chemicals stored at the port but had been unable to do anything about it.

The judge responsible for the probe into the blast, Fadi Sawan, asked Parliament in a letter to investigate caretaker Public Works and Transport Minister Michel Najjar, Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni and Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm, AFP reported on Wednesday morning.

“Honestly, I couldn’t care less, » Mr Lazekani said. « Even if he asked [parliamentary Speaker] Nabih Berri to come, he would go and come back without a problem.

« It’s been three months, and no-one has been held accountable. »