The Beirut port director has been arrested following the devastating explosion that killed 135 and injured thousands, according to reports.
Hassan Koraytem has reportedly been detained by Lebanese Police Military Police, under the supervision of the Attorney General.
It comes following news authorities had taken 16 people into custody as part of an ongoing investigation into Tuesday’s explosion.
State news agency NNA quoted Judge Fadi Akiki, a government representative at the military court, as saying authorities had so far questioned more than 18 port and customs officials and individuals responsible for or involved in maintenance work at the warehouse housing highly explosive material that blew up.
“Sixteen people have been taken into custody as part of the
investigation,” NNA quoted Akiki as saying, though did not name the individuals.
He said the investigation was continuing.
It comes after photos emerged allegedly showing bags of ammonium nitrate shoddily stacked into what is thought to be Warehouse 12.
The hazardous load of explosives is believed to have been abandoned by Russian businessman Igor Grechushkin in September 2013 before being transferred to Beirut’s port.
It is thought he may now face questioning.
President Michel Aoun said in an address to the nation following the deadly blast, 2,750 tonnes of the substance, used in fertilisers and bombs, was stored for six years at the port after it was seized.
The government was “determined to investigate and expose what happened as soon as possible, to hold the responsible and the negligent accountable”, he said.
An official source familiar with preliminary investigations blamed the incident on “inaction and negligence”, saying “nothing was done” by committees and judges involved in the matter to order the removal of hazardous material.
It was previously reported Koraytem, and the director general of Lebanese Customs, Badri Daher, both said on Wednesday that they and other officials repeatedly warned the judiciary about the danger posed by the stored ammonium nitrate and the need to remove the explosive chemical.
Koraytem said it had been put in the warehouse under a court order.