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Top Lebanese Officials Ignored Warnings About Dangerous Chemical Stored at Port: Rights Watchdog

Lebanese President Michel Aoun, caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, the director-general of state security, and a number of other former ministers and officials were aware of the overwhelming risks posed by the storage of ammonium nitrate at Beirut Port, but ignored the danger, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch on Tuesday. The stored chemical exploded in a massive blast a year ago, on Aug. 4, 2020, that killed more than 200 people, injured thousands, and caused widespread destruction. The 700-page HRW report, which summarized the results of an extensive investigation, including multiple interviews with top government officials, concluded that multiple Lebanese authorities were criminally negligent under Lebanese law. It called on the UN Human Rights Council to do its own investigation into the event and asked governments around the world to impose sanctions on the officials responsible. “Evidence strongly suggests that some government officials foresaw the death that the ammonium nitrate’s presence in the port could result in and tacitly accepted the risk of the deaths occurring,” the report said. President Aoun said Friday that he was willing to testify regarding the explosion and that no one was above the law.