US decries 'lack of progress' toward justice 3 years after Beirut port explosion

US decries 'lack of progress' toward justice 3 years after Beirut port explosion

Victims, their families deserve justice and accountability for those responsible, says Statement Department spokesperson

By Firdevs Bulut Kartal

TORONTO (AA) - The "lack of progress" towards ensuring accountability for the devastating explosion that upended Beirut three years ago "is unacceptable," the US State Department said on Friday.

"The lack of progress towards accountability is unacceptable and underscores the need for judicial reform and greater respect for the rule of law in Lebanon," spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

"The victims and their families deserve justice and accountability for those responsible for the disaster and the underlying causes," he added.

Beirut was rocked by a massive explosion on Aug. 4, 2020 that killed more than 200 people and injured 6,500 others. About 50,000 housing units suffered damage, with property damage estimated to cost $15 billion. It is considered to be the largest non-nuclear explosion ever recorded.

Lebanon's highest court decided in January to release all suspects arrested as part of the investigation into the explosion. Ghassan Oweidat, Lebanon's chief prosecutor, went on to file charges against the judge leading the investigation into the massive blast.

The actions were taken two days after judge Tarek Bitar resumed his inquiry into the deadly blast following a 13-month suspension prompted by political resistance to his attempts to question top officials.

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