Aletho News


Court convicts UK firm over cataclysmic 2020 blast in Beirut

Press TV – February 23, 2023

The UK High Court has ruled a London-based company that delivered the explosive ammonium nitrate to Beirut’s port is liable towards the victims of a devastating blast in 2020.

Lebanon’s Beirut Bar Association said on Thursday the high court had ruled the London-registered chemical trading firm, Savaro Ltd., will have to pay compensations now.

The huge Beirut port blast on August 4, 2020 killed more than 200 people, injuring over 6,000 and damaging large parts of the port city.

Friends and families of the blast’s victims saw the legal development as a rare step towards justice and against the political intervention that has obstructed the investigative judge leading a probe in Lebanon for over two years.

The court ruling in London is an unusual judicial success for the victims’ families, some of whom opted to file lawsuits abroad.

The Beirut Bar Association, alongside three of the victims’ family members, filed a lawsuit against the British firm more than a year ago.

The ruling by the High Court of Justice in London means the proceedings now move to a “damages phase” of the case that determines the firm’s compensation for the families, Camille Abousleiman, one of the lawyers involved in the case, told media.

Head of the Bar Association Nader Kaspar considered the ruling a “great achievement,” paving the way to continue the quest for justice and the truth about what caused the devastating explosion in Beirut’s port.

“It’s the first time there is an actual judgment on this matter in reputable courts,” Abu Suleiman, also a former Lebanese labor minister, said. The ruling “certainly will open the door for potential justice in courts overseas.”

Mariana Foudoulian, whose sister Gaia died in the explosion, called the judgment a “very important step.”

“Through this judgment, we can try to access more important details,” Foudoulian told media. “This does give us some hope.”

Court documents showed Savaro chartered a huge shipment of ammonium nitrate in 2013 which eventually ended up in Beirut’s port area.

Documents show officials were aware of the highly inflammable chemical substance docked at the port for years, but did not take decisive action to have it removed.

The lawsuit against Savaro was lodged in August 2021. It remains unclear who own(s) Savaro. Probes into the company’s ownership listed agents from a corporate services firm.

Accountability Now, a Swiss organization, said some of the Beirut blast victims’ families had filed a lawsuit in Texas against US-Norwegian geophysical services group TGS.

The TGS firm owns a company that allegedly sub-chartered the ship carrying the ammonium nitrate in 2012. Accountability Now said it hoped the Texas lawsuit would help disclose communications between TGS and other parties involved in the Beirut blast.

February 24, 2023 - Posted by | Aletho News |

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