(Photo credit: The National News)
Chilean police announced the arrest on 20 April of a Portuguese man wanted by Interpol for his alleged involvement in the 2020 Beirut port explosion, which killed over 200 people.
The man, whose name was not disclosed, arrived in Santiago from Spain and was taken into custody by the Chilean Investigation Police. According to the police, the man was later put on a plane and sent back to Madrid.
The arrest warrant says that the man was wanted for allegedly bringing “explosive elements” linked to the port blast into Lebanon, according to airport police official, Christian Saez.
According to Lebanese authorities, the port explosion was caused by an ammonium nitrate shipment that caught fire after having been stored in a port warehouse under faulty conditions for six years. The impact of the blast was massive, killing over 215 people and causing serious material damage across the city.
On 4 November of last year, Tarek Bitar, the lead judge appointed to the case, was forced to stop the investigation into the blast for the third time in 2021, over a lawsuit filed against him by a former government official.
Last year, a Beirut Court of Appeals informed Bitar that former Public Works minister Yousef Fenianos had filed a lawsuit against him alleging the judge was “mishandling” the case, and that the investigation must cease until a ruling is issued.
This marked the 15th lawsuit filed against Bitar since he took over the blast investigation last year. Bitar was accused of using the tragedy to persecute political groups that oppose US interference in Lebanese affairs.
An October 2021 investigation by The Cradle showed that a large part of the responsibility for the explosion stemmed from the army’s failure to supervise the proper storage, destruction, or re-exportation of the ammonium nitrate.