The Rafiq Hariri verdict disappointed some across Lebanon – leaving little hope over the Beirut explosion probe

The anger at the authorities goes beyond court rulings and investigations, says Bel Trew, as the country’s citizens are left weathering multiple storms and exasperated by decades of mismanagement

Sunday 23 August 2020 21:59 BST
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Lebanon is back in a two-week punishing lockdown even though tens of thousands of people in Beirut have been left homeless by the blast
Lebanon is back in a two-week punishing lockdown even though tens of thousands of people in Beirut have been left homeless by the blast (Getty)

The timing of the verdict felt like a cruel joke, several people have told me this week from the blasted remains of Beirut – which after the recent massive explosion, an unprecedented financial crisis, and now a new two-week coronavirus lockdown feels like a cursed city.

While rescue crews were still sweeping up the rubble, while families were presented with the pieces of their missing loved ones, while aid stations were distributing food and nappies to shell-shocked parents, over 3,000 km away in The Hague a special court on Tuesday ruled on a different downtown Beirut blast – the 2005 suicide bombing which killed former prime minister Rafiq Hariri and 21 others.

Fifteen years on, after millions of dollars have been poured into a high profile international investigation, many in the Lebanese capital city were looking at Tuesday’s verdict as a litmus test for the outcome of any future investigations into the 4 August explosion. This month’s blast, likely caused by thousands of tonnes of poorly-stored explosive material catching fire in a hangar in Beirut port, also destroyed swathes of the capital, killing nearly 200 people and injuring 6,000 more.

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