Aoun Officially Admits Knowing About The Ammonium Nitrate

Al-Arabiya/Reuters | BBC

President Michel Aoun’s media office on Saturday fought back against allegations insinuating that he was interfering in judicial investigations into the Beirut Port blast.

“The president did not interfere with the investigations undertaken by the judge into the explosion in any form and has more than once called for speedy investigations to uncover the details of the crime and determine who was responsible,” the statement said.

According to Aoun’s media office, the investigation into the blast was not discussed during the Higher Defense Council session on December 8th, therefore, deeming all reports that allege the president interfered with the investigation false.

“The discussion was limited to the functions of the courts and the necessity to activate them and other issues pertinent to the council,” the statement added.

However, according to the National News Agency, Aoun called more than once to expedite the investigation’s completion in order to uncover the circumstances related to this crime and determine the responsibilities.

The president stressed that it is the right of the victims’ families to know the truth of what happened on that disastrous day.

Up until now, officials have assured that what led to the horrific explosion was the ignition of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate carelessly stored at the port.

The Lebanese presidency disclosed that the first time the President was informed of the presence of quantities of ammonium nitrate in the warehouse located in the heart of Beirut was through a report by the General Directorate of State Security he received on July 21st.

“Upon viewing it, President Aoun asked his security and military advisor to follow up on the content of the report with the Secretary-General of the Supreme Defense Council, which includes all the security apparatuses and the relevant ministries,” the statement affirmed.

The secretary-general of the Higher Defense Council informed Aoun’s adviser on July 28th that he was dealing with the issue; yet, evidently, not urgently enough to impede the catastrophe.

He reportedly sent a letter about it to the Public Works Ministry, which received it on August 3rd, one day before the blast.

Hussein Malla/AP

Currently, the only major update in the blast probe revolves around lead investigator Judge Fadi Sawan charging this week caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab and three former ministers with negligence. This marks the first charges targeting high-ranking officials four months after the explosion.

However, the indictment against Diab has caused fierce resistance from political leaders rejecting it and condemning it as unconstitutional.

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