- "In the aftermath of this tragedy, we, like so many others, expect a credible and transparent investigation of the circumstances that led up to the explosion."
- Foreign investigators, including the French, are taking part in the investigations conducted by the Lebanese authorities.
- Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech yesterday, "we do not trust the international investigation."
An American official called for a transparent and credible investigation into the explosion that occurred in the Beirut port, saying that Lebanon can never go back to an era when “anything happened” in its ports and at its borders. However, he did not speak explicitly about an international investigation.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, from Beirut Port, called on Lebanon today to conduct a “transparent and credible investigation” into the huge explosion, which left 177 people dead and thousands injured, and destroyed large neighborhoods of the capital.
“In the aftermath of this tragedy, we, like so many others, expect a credible and transparent investigation of the circumstances that led up to the explosion. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation will soon be here to help,” Hale told reporters after inspecting the harbor damage. However, Hale did not talk about the international investigation, which was demanded by some Lebanese opposition political forces.
A team of investigators from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will arrive at the end of this week, Hale said, “and they will do their part at the invitation of the Lebanese,” noting that they will help determine “what led to this explosion.”
Hale said Lebanon would receive financial support when its leaders implement reforms, urging them to respond to their people’s demands for good governance and an end to corruption. “When we see Lebanese leaders committed to real change, change in word and deed, America and its international partners will respond to systemic reforms with sustained financial support,” he added.
Foreign investigators, including the French, are taking part in the investigations conducted by the Lebanese authorities, after their refusal to conduct an international investigation. On Thursday, UN experts in the field of human rights called for an independent and rapid investigation into the explosion, expressing concern about the culture of “impunity” prevailing in Lebanon.
Judge Fadi Sawan, the first military investigative judge, assumed his duties Friday as a forensic investigator in the case. It is expected that his appointment to head the Judicial Council will give impetus to the investigations, the results of which have not yet been revealed.
The investigations mainly look into the reason for storing huge quantities of ammonium nitrate in the Beirut port for six years without protection measures, and the cause of the explosion, which displaced about 300,000 people from their homes and caused the injury of more than 6,500 people.
The Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said in a speech yesterday, “we do not trust the international investigation,” criticizing the participation of a team from the FBI. Nasrallah considered that “one of the first functions of the international investigation would be to exclude any responsibility for Israel from this bombing.”
Hale stressed that “America calls on Lebanon’s political leaders to finally respond to the people’s longstanding and legitimate demands and create a credible plan,” he told reporters after his tour.
Internal and external parties accuse Hezbollah, backed by Tehran, of having great influence inside the border facilities, including the port and the airport, as well as controlling illegal crossings with neighboring Syria, through which weapons enter. However, the party denies all the accusations. Nasrallah had denied last week that his party had any weapons or stores in the port.