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The Daily Star
FRIDAY, 18 APR 2014
10:23 PM Beirut time
22 °C
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Prosecutor charges firm over Beirut tunnel flooding
Civilians are seen trapped in their cars in a flooded tunnel on the Airport-Khalde highway, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
Civilians are seen trapped in their cars in a flooded tunnel on the Airport-Khalde highway, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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BEIRUT: Lebanon's financial prosecutor charged Thursday a private company with negligence and sabotage in the case of the Beirut highway flooding.

Judge Ali Ibrahim charged Middle East Airport Services (MEAS) with negligence and sabotage after failing to carry out water drainage maintenance in the tunnel connecting Beirut to the airport.

The charge came hours after caretaker Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi gave his testimony in the case before Ibrahim.

"We discussed all the issues raised by [caretaker Public Works Minister Ghazi] Aridi during his news conference and I presented all the documents I have,” Safadi said after giving his testimony.

“I answered all the questions,” he added.

Safadi also said he will not be summoned for questioning for a second time in the case.

Ibrahim launched an investigation into the case earlier this month after the tunnel flooded due to heavy rainfall, trapping citizens in their vehicles for several hours.

Aridi resigned Monday after giving his testimony to Ibrahim in the flooding case.

Aridi had blamed Safadi for the flooding, saying the caretaker finance minister refused to approve Public Works and Transportation Ministry funding to perform drainage maintenance in an attempt to pressure Aridi into endorsing illegal construction.

Safadi denied such allegations saying that they are part of a political campaign against him.

The prosecutor has also taken the testimony of officials from two private contracting companies, South for Reconstruction and MEAS, regarding the road flooding.

The questioning focused on whether the firms ignored or renewed contracts with the Public Works Ministry in 2013 to clean out the storm drains.

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