A file photo of the devastated Beirut port Photograph:( AFP )
Thursday's decision by the country's highest court to remove Investigating Judge Fadi Sawwan came after legal challenges by senior officials he had accused of negligence that led to the blast, considered one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history
The prosecutor investigating last year's massive blast in Beirut was formally notified on Friday that he would no longer lead an enquiry into last year's deadly port explosion, state-run Lebanon's National News Agency reported.
Thursday's decision by the country's highest court to remove Investigating Judge Fadi Sawwan came after legal challenges by senior officials he had accused of negligence that led to the blast, considered one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history.
The agency said Sawwan was officially informed about the Court of Cassation's decision after he arrived at his office in Beirut on Friday morning. The court called for a new investigating judge to be appointed to lead the probe, nearly six months after it started.
The move angered families of the victims of the August 4 blast, some of whom held a protest in Beirut on Thursday. More sit-ins are planned for Friday. The families of the victims said Sawwan was removed as a result of political pressure.
The development is likely to further delay the investigation into the horrific explosion that killed 211 people, wounded over 6,000 and damaged much of Beirut. Families of the victims and survivors have accused the ruling political class of corruption and negligence that led to the explosion of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material used in fertilizers that had been stored in the port for years.
The explosion has been one of the most traumatic national experiences the Lebanese have faced. Family members of those killed are sceptical that any investigation into the explosion can be transparent and independent in a country where a culture of impunity has prevailed for decades.
Judge Sawwan had accused and summoned for questioning Lebanon's caretaker prime minister and three former ministers on suspicion of negligence that led to the deadly explosion.