Lebanon News

Politicians, leading figures rally behind Diab after blast charges

Hariri visits Diab at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Dec. 11, 2020. (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Leading politicians and religious figures rallied behind caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab Friday after he was charged in connection to the Beirut Port blast.

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri viewed to be Diab's foe, expressed solidarity with him during a visit to the Grand Serail Friday.

“Violating the Constitution and indicting the premiership is unacceptable, which is why I came to stand with the prime minister and express my solidarity with him,” Hariri said after the meeting.

Diab, along with three former ministers, was charged Thursday by Judge Fadi Sawwan with negligence in connection to the Aug. 4 Beirut blast that led to the deaths of more than 200 people and resulted in thousands of injuries.

Other political forces and officials also came to Diab's defense Friday.

Hezbollah in a statement denounced the charges against the four officials, saying they were politically targeted and selectively charged and called on Sawwan to reconsider his decision.

Ministers from Diab’s Cabinet also came to his defense on Twitter.

Caretaker Information Minister Manal Abdel-Samad praised Diab as man of principle who is righteous and patriotic in a tweet. “He was one of those who tried to get Lebanon out of the dark tunnel,” she said.

Caretaker Labor Minister Lamia Yammine also expressed solidarity with Diab, calling him a man of integrity and honesty and called on the judiciary to adopt a unified standard in its decisions.

The leading religious figure of the Sunni sect Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian Friday called Diab to express his support and solidarity to him, according to Diab's media office.

Derian also said he refused the premiership position be insulted.

The caretaker premier Thursday said his “conscience is clear” in a statement following the charges.

Diab’s media office later posted a tweet calling the judge’s move unconstitutional, indicating he would not accept to be interrogated again as the prosecutor questioned him as a witness in September.

Sawwan is set to interrogate Diab at the Grand Serail Monday.

Meanwhile Former Public Works Minister Ghazi Zeaiter, who along Youssef Fenianos, another former Public Works minister and former Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil charged in the blast case, called out Sawwan for his decision.

Zeaiter, who is a current MP, said Sawwan had surpassed his powers and violated the Constitution, during a news conference at Parliament.

 

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