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23 Feb 2023

Kareem Chehayeb, Associated Press,
// Nada Maucourant Atallah, Newsdesk Libnanews

UK ruling delivers rare victory for Beirut blast victims

On 4 August 2020, deadly explosions hit the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon.

British 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...

On Aug. 4 that year, hundreds of tons of the chemical, typically used in fertilizers, detonated, killing more than 200 people, injuring over 6,000 and damaging large parts of Beirut. Families of the explosion’s victims saw the 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 ruling in London is an unusual judicial success for the victims’ families, members of whom have advocated for an unimpeded national investigation. Some have opted to file lawsuits abroad.

The London-registered chemical trading firm, Savaro Ltd., is suspected of having chartered the shipment of the ammonium nitrate in 2013 that ended up in Beirut. Documents show a handful of senior political, judicial and security officials were aware of the substance in the port for years, but did not take decisive action to get rid of it.

The Beirut Bar Association, alongside three victims’ families, filed a lawsuit against Savaro Ltd. over a year ago. The judgment by the High Court of Justice in London means that the proceedings now move to a “damages phase” of the case that determines the firm’s compensation for the families...

The civil suit against Savaro Ltd. was filed in August 2021. Soon after, UK authorities blocked the firm’s attempts to dissolve the company...