Following the devastating August 4 explosion, hundreds of victims have come forward to sue the government for the losses and damages they incurred. Since then, half of those lawsuits have been forwarded to the competent judicial source, according to the National News Agency (NNA).
Back in September, there were over 1200 complaints being prepared by the Beirut Bar Association, which offers its services pro bono with the help of 400 lawyers and 250 legal aides.
The number of legal complaints has increased since then to 1400.
On Wednesday, the association went ahead and submitted nearly 700 complaints to Lebanon’s public prosecutor.
“We presented 679 complaints today in the name of the families of those killed, wounded, and affected,” Melhem Khalaf, the head of the Bar Association, said on Wednesday.
This is the first wave of complaints to be filed in that regard out of nearly 1,400 currently being compiled by the association.
“We cannot stop until a verdict is pronounced,” Khalaf stressed, calling the port explosion that devastated Beirut and killed over 200 people, injured thousands, and displaced countless others, “a horrific catastrophe.”
“We need to go deep with the ongoing investigation,” he added.
Since its launch in August, the local investigation into the blast has led to the arrest of more than 2 dozen suspects, including high-ranking officials, such as the director-general of customs and the chief of the Port of Beirut.
Notably, Lebanon rejected an international probe into the blast. In the aftermath of the explosion, an investigative team from France and another from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) each took samples to their countries to aid the investigation.
While the FBI reported no conclusion on whether the explosion was intentional, the French report, which is set to reach Lebanon soon, is expected to be more comprehensive than that of its American counterpart.
Concerns are increasing with the ongoing delay and process of the Lebanese investigation, prompting Human Rights Watch (HRW) to recently issue a report demanding an investigation led by the United Nations.
The report claims the local investigation to be flawed, beginning with the appointed judges, the political meddling, and the lack of a decent judicial system. All this could explain the delay and lack of results of a probe which Lebanon’s president had demanded to be done in five days.
Until then and if ever, the victims of this “horrific catastrophe,” as Khalaf rightfully named it, need to be heard in courts and given some form of justice.